Top Dem: Trump's State Dept. cuts a 'Ponzi scheme'
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach Key Dem: Did Kushner use private emails to talk with foreign governments? Dem senator pitches ideas for gun control after shooting MORE (D-Md.) is urging the Senate Budget Committee to reverse the Trump administration's expected deep cuts to the State Department.  

Cardin, the leading Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter on Friday to the Budget Committee's top members — Sens. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThis week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform How the effort to replace ObamaCare failed Senate GOP budget paves way for .5T in tax cuts MORE (R-Wyo.) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they're related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers MORE (I-Vt.) — raising alarm over the president's forthcoming budget, which will reportedly cut the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development budgets by 37 percent. 
"To claim that one is strengthening national security while at the same time cutting the budget for front-line national security departments is nothing but a Ponzi scheme, one certain to fail and at great cost to the American people," Cardin wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Hill. 
He added that "to say I am deeply concerned ... is a gross understatement."
The Trump administration is expected to send its budget proposal to Congress on Thursday. Lawmakers, starting with the House and Senate Budget committees, will then put out and pass their own budget. 
Cardin, in his letter, outlines more than a dozen funding requests he wants the committee to include in its budget, including that the so-called "150 fund" be at no less than $60 billion and funding for UN-related accounts be at a minimum of $5.75 billion. 
Cardin warned that unless the "150 fund," which includes international affairs money, is fully funded the State Department will have to keep using money from an overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund that isn't subject to the budget caps to cover other funding holes. 
"This dynamic is setting up what may potentially be a very painful day of reckoning unless Congress and the executive make the base function 150 budget whole," he wrote, adding that the president's proposed budget would "compound this problem, not alleviate it."
CNN reported last month that the Trump administration is expected to cut non-defense programs by roughly $54 billion to offset an equal increase in military spending. 
But his proposed slash of State Department funding is already coming under fire from top Republicans, who have defended foreign assistance ahead of Trump's budget. 

Asked if a budget that cuts the agency’s funding by roughly a third could pass the upper chamber, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE told reporters "probably not."

"When we get to funding the government, obviously it will be done on a bipartisan basis," he said. 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (R-Fla.), who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee with Cardin, also defended the need humanitarian assistance money from the Senate floor.

Cardin added in his letter that that Trump's cuts would "wholly incapacitate" the State Department's development and economic programs and "for all intents and purposes end meaningful humanitarian aid." 
"The budget committee ... must reverse these ruinous administration proposals and assure that the International Affairs budget provides resources commensurate with our urgent national security needs and continued U.S. global leadership," he wrote.