There are reports that the State Department and foreign assistance budgets could be slashed by 30 percent under the proposal. The State Department declined to comment other than to say Monday that it was working with the White House to review budget priorities and that the department “remains committed to a U.S. foreign policy that advances the security and prosperity of the American people.”
The budget plan was given to agencies by the Office of Management and Budget on Monday with only top line numbers in what’s known as a “skinny budget.” After further negotiations between the White House and the agencies, a full budget proposal is expected in late March.
Graham said there were many other Republicans and Democrats who will join him in the effort to save State Department and foreign assistance funding.
“When the Trump administration has a budget that basically destroys soft power, it’s unnerving to me, because clearly they don’t understand how soft power is essential to winning the war,” he said. “It’s a budget proposal that will probably meet the same fate as Obama’s proposals.”
Graham referred to a letter sent to lawmakers Monday signed by 120 retired generals and admirals urging Congress to defend State Department and foreign assistance funding. The letter was organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a non-governmental organization that works with military leaders who support diplomacy and development.
The letter also cites a quote by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who in 2013 as head of U.S. Central Command, said, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”
Any appropriations bill would need 60 votes to pass, meaning that Democrats could block efforts to slash diplomacy and development funding if they are unified. Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told me he will fight any such efforts….”
Draining the State Department. @joshrogin WashingtonPost