Senators warn of ‘dangerous’ cuts to International Affairs Budget

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A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for a robust International Affairs Budget, calling the alternative “shortsighted, counterproductive and even dangerous.”

“This budget invests in the strategic tools that are essential to promoting our national security, building economic prosperity, furthering humanitarian and democratic principles, and demonstrating American values,” 43 senators wrote in a Thursday letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate’s Budget and Appropriations committees.

“At a time when we face multiple national security challenges around the world, deep cuts in this area would be shortsighted, counterproductive and even dangerous.”

{mosads}The letter, led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), says today’s national security challenges “require the United States to utilize a full range of non-military tools to ensure our nation’s safety.”

The International Affairs Budget bolsters U.S. security “through programs that identify and help mitigate threats, improve the political and economic lives of others, address humanitarian crises, and help stabilize fragile states that are prone to become havens for terrorism,” the lawmakers wrote.

President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget includes a 28 percent cut to State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development funding, and a more than 30 percent cut to the United Nations budget.

Critics of the budget say the severe cuts will undermine foreign policy goals and make the country less safe.

The letter also notes that more than 120 retired generals and admirals in February urged that “resources for the International Affairs Budget keep pace with the growing global threats and opportunities we face” and that the military needs “strong civilian partners in the battle against the drivers of extremism.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis also advocated for a well-funded State Department when he was the head of U.S. Central Command, arguing that if it was not fully funded, “then I need to buy more ammunition.”

“There is no question that we must conduct assertive oversight, scrutinize the value of every program, and eliminate waste and inefficiency … [but] deep cuts to the International Affairs Budget would undermine our country’s economic and national security interests, as well as the humanitarian and domestic principles we support,” the lawmakers wrote. 

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