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MFAN Community Urges Congress to Resist Deep Cuts to International Affairs Budget

On May 23rd, the Trump administration released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2018. The request reduces funding for the State Department and USAID by 31 percent. The administration claims the cuts will make these agencies “leaner, more efficient, and more effective.” However, a recent statement by the MFAN co-chairs warns that such deep cuts will not only make these agencies less effective and accountable, but also weaken U.S. national security and global leadership.

See below for a roundup of reactions from around the MFAN community.

Connie Veillette, MFAN Co-Chair; Senior Fellow, The Lugar Center: “To ignore the cascading effects of numerous global crises and to pull back from reforms that have transformed USAID into a modern and accountable agency is bad for both U.S. taxpayers and global stability. These cuts are dangerous and will undermine our national security and global respect for U.S. leadership.”

George Ingram, MFAN Co-Chair; Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution: “This budget is irresponsible and does not reflect the longstanding bipartisan consensus on foreign assistance. We look forward to working with Congress to continue increasing aid effectiveness based on sound principles, not arbitrary budget cuts.”

Carolyn Miles, President & CEO, Save the Children: “The proposed cuts to foreign assistance would reverse the bipartisan progress the United States has made in helping millions of children survive and thrive around the world.”

Andrea Koppel, Vice President of Global Engagement and Policy, Mercy Corps: “It is shortsighted for the administration to propose gutting development programs in order to save taxpayer dollars, when these very programs are breaking the cycle of hunger, violence and poverty and decreasing reliance on aid dependence in the long term. If Congress does not act and restore funding for the International Affairs Budget to $60 billion, we will be forever stuck in a perpetual cycle of humanitarian and military intervention while never solving the conflicts fueling today’s massive humanitarian crises. Cutting conflict-prevention programs is a huge step backward in our efforts to make America – and the world – safer.”

Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World: “President Trump’s budget robs the poor to pay the rich. More than half of the spending cuts come from programs focused on ending hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. must continue its leadership during times of global crisis. I urge people of conscience to contact their members of Congress and tell them to vigorously resist these budget cuts.”

Tom Hart, North America Executive Director, ONE: “This budget doesn’t reflect American leadership or American values, and it flies in the face of our national security and economic interests. Coupled with these proposed cuts, we are alarmed by the rumored demotion of development as a strong and independent pillar of U.S. foreign policy — a position that development has enjoyed over multiple administrations. It is comforting that so many in Congress — including leaders from both parties— have said that Congress could not and would not pass this budget, but it remains a dangerous document. It slashes funding for the fights against poverty at home and extreme poverty overseas. Congress must stop it, and must protect the international affairs budget for FY18.”

Paul O’Brien, Vice President for Policy and Campaigns, Oxfam America: “President Trump’s budget proposal is immoral, short-sighted, and un-American. It would make the world more callous, reward oppression and violence, and damage long-term US interests. Despite statements from some in this Administration that the US is not pulling back from international engagement, this budget proposal turns its back on the world’s most vulnerable and creates a false choice between helping these people or helping people at home, especially when foreign aid is less than 1% of the US budget.”

Liz Schrayer, President & CEO, USGLC: “Slashing the development and diplomacy budget by one-third will only make it harder to achieve the goals outlined in the Administration’s budget justification released today – defending our national security, asserting American leadership, and promoting U.S. economic interests. It doesn’t add up – particularly at a time of extreme global challenges like ISIS, famine, and the emergence of global health threats. This message has echoed across Capitol Hill, and now it is time for lawmakers to put their stamp on the 2018 budget and ensure that our diplomats and development workers have the resources they need to keep our country safe.”

Carter Roberts, President and CEO, World Wildlife Fund: “For less than a penny on the dollar of federal spending, foreign assistance delivers exponential returns for our national security and economic growth. Our country’s longstanding support for conservation and sustainable development helps protect the natural resources on which we all depend. These cuts will turn back the clock on advances made in combating common global challenges like food and water security, wildlife trafficking, and climate change. We urge Congress to pass a budget that protects these investments and more closely aligns with America’s long-held humanitarian and conservation values.”

Nazanin Ash, Vice President of Global Policy & Advocacy, International Rescue Committee: “The cuts to foreign aid proposed by the Administration endanger millions of lives around the world – as well as American global leadership. With 65 million displaced around the world, a sweeping global famine affecting 30 million people, rising insecurity and disease outbreaks, forward-leaning foreign aid is of indispensable importance. The IRC calls on Congress to protect and support the International Affairs budget at no less than $60 billion for FY18 and to increase refugee resettlement to at least 75,000, strengthening US foreign policy, maintaining a critical lifeline to millions and protecting global safety and security in the face of urgent global challenges.”

InterAction: “The budget decisions currently before Congress have life-and-death consequences for the world’s poorest people. If the President’s Budget is enacted, it will reduce the life-saving and transformative economic impacts that we see every day. InterAction calls on Congress to sustain its leadership and support for a robust foreign assistance, as demonstrated earlier this month through passage of H.R. 244, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17). A total of no less than $60 billion for the International Affairs Budget in FY18 must be supported.”

Also see Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s and USAID’s statements.

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