President Trump’s proposed cuts to State, USAID would be “shortsighted and devastating”

Today, the White House released the outline of President Trump’s budget request for 2018—and it proposes a cut of around one-third to the budgets of the State Department and USAID. There’s been a lot of talk from elected officials, military officials, and faith leaders about why that’s not a good idea. Now that there are actual numbers being discussed, we’re weighing in.

In a statement today, Tom Hart, ONE’s Executive Director for North America, said, “Cutting the budgets of State and USAID by a third would be shortsighted and devastating to programs that are saving lives, building capacity, protecting Americans, and advancing America’s interests around the world.”

He’s right: These cuts would be disastrous for those living in extreme poverty. This would put at risk global health and pandemic-prevention, education, emergency food aid, and other critical programs that help lift people out of extreme poverty—not to mention literally decades of progress. 

USAID assists communities in South Africa with increasing the number of people getting tested for tuberculosis and completing their treatments. Clinic staff, doctors, and community volunteers are trained on early detection and treatment of TB, promoting greater awareness that TB is curable. (Photo credit: USAID)

As more than 100 faith leaders attested today, we have a moral responsibility to not turn our backs on those in need. Our foreign assistance programs are among the few places in the government where funding translates to lives saved. The idea of cutting the emergency food aid programs while four countries face famines and 1.4 million children are “at imminent risk” of dying from hunger is particularly astonishing. This isn’t about eliminating ineffective programs—this is about the medicines and food that people living in extreme poverty need to survive.

But the cuts wouldn’t only affect people abroad. If the goal is to increase our national security, cutting our foreign assistance budget is one of the last things we should do. As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis once said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.” Strategic development assistance is not charity—it’s security. And it is in the United States’ clear national interest.

Additionally, the cuts to foreign assistance proposed in the document released by the White House today don’t come close to the overall cut being touted. That gives us added concern about what more severe cuts are being planned.

Maamohelang Hlaha  kisses her young son Rebone. An HIV-positive mother of four, Hlaha’s village is inaccessible by vehicles, and is a three-hour hike from the nearest health clinic. She receives HIV treatment through the Riders for Health program, which is funded by USAID. (Photo credit: Reverie Zurba, USAID/South Africa)

We have to stop this in its tracks. Congress has the final say on spending decisions, but they need to know that their constituents—that’s YOU—want to stop these cuts. This is the start of our work, not the end of it.

You can help: Call 1-888-869-8931 or click here to tell your members of Congress that they need to stand up against these proposals and protect the international affairs budget. It’s never been more important to make a call and use your voice. Millions of people are depending on us today.

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