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

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenate GOP will force clerks to read bill to delay COVID-19 relief vote OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Biden tells Senate Democrats to stick together, quickly pass coronavirus relief 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 EnziLummis adopts 'laser eyes' meme touting Bitcoin Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes With Senate at stake, Georgia is on all our minds MORE (R-Wyo.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case 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 McConnellGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks DOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Trump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC 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 RubioDeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk GOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment' CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be 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.