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

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinWhen it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, what's a moderate Democrat to do? Battle lines drawn on Biden's infrastructure plan GOP senator hammers Biden proposal to raise corporate tax rate 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 EnziThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Lummis adopts 'laser eyes' meme touting Bitcoin Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Wyo.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Congress can protect sacred Oak Flat in Arizona from mining project 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. 
 
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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 McConnellMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Colin Powell on Afghanistan: 'We've done all we can do' 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 RubioJon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left Exclusive: GOP senators seek FBI investigation into Biden Pentagon nominee 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.