Dems advance bill defying Trump State Department cuts

Dems advance bill defying Trump State Department cuts
© Greg Nash

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a $56.4 billion bill that would boost spending on the state department, defying President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE’s request to slash the agency by nearly a quarter.

“This bill reflects congressional priorities that advance United States foreign policy,” said Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Pelosi: Israel's Omar-Tlaib decision 'a sign of weakness' MORE (D-N.Y.), who also chairs the subcommittee governing the bill.

“It upholds many bipartisan positions of this committee and of Congress, and supports important investments to protect our national security, fund our commitments and repair America’s reputation internationally,” she added.

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The panel approved the measure in a 29-23 vote along party lines, advancing it to the full House, which is expected to take up the proposal in June.

Trump's budget proposal unveiled in March called for 23 percent cuts to State as well as large cuts to other departments in an attempt to curb debt and shift spending toward defense.

The Appropriations-approved 2020 spending bill also takes aim at several of Trump’s foreign policies, including provisions that would restrict the Trump administration from selling nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia and block withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

It would boost spending for the state department and related agencies by $885.8 million and $174.2 million for the United States Agency for International Development operations. It also includes $6.3 billion for fighting HIV/AIDS.

During the markup, the committee rejected GOP amendments that would have stripped out provisions supporting the Paris climate accord, withheld certain funds from United Nations peacekeeping forces, and kept abortion-related restrictions in place.

The bill would reverse the “gag rule,” also known as the Mexico City policy, which stops U.S. funds from going to any organization that performs, educates about or advocates abortion.

Rep. Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtHouse advances B agriculture bill Dems advance bill defying Trump State Department cuts Maryland raises legal tobacco purchasing age to 21 MORE (R-Ala.) warned that Trump had threatened to veto any bill that impeded on his administration’s abortion policy.

“The president has made his intentions clear,” Aderholt said. “Right now, if the bill stands at is it is, it could be vetoed and we could go toward a continuing resolution.”

The bill is the fourth of 12 appropriations bills to advance through the full committee, while eight have already passed through subcommittee, with another on the docket for Friday.

The bills are unlikely to become law as they are. Democrats are using their own set of overall spending numbers to guide the spending bills, despite the lack of an agreement with the Senate and White House on new spending caps. 

The White House has proposed leaving current legislative caps in place, which would lead to dramatic spending cuts in both defense and nondefense spending.

While Senate appropriators opposed keeping the caps in place, they are waiting for a deal before starting the process of writing and marking up their versions of appropriations bills, which will have to be reconciled with the Democratic House bills.

Trump reportedly favors a yearlong continuing resolution that would keep current spending levels in place.