US to pay less in NATO aid under new agreement

US to pay less in NATO aid under new agreement
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The Trump administration moved to cut U.S. aid to NATO this week under a new formula reportedly agreed to by ally countries.

NATO and U.S. defense officials have confirmed in multiple reports that the Trump administration is seeking to reduce its contribution to NATO to approximately 16 percent of the organization’s budget in order to bring U.S. funding closer to that of Germany, which pays 14.8 percent.

Under earlier agreements, the U.S. provided 22 percent of NATO’s direct funding, which covers the maintenance of NATO’s headquarters, joint security investments and some combined military operations, CNN reported.

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The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

The move is largely symbolic, as NATO’s current budget is relatively small, approximately $2.5 billion. That money is separate from the 2 percent of gross domestic product that NATO members agreed to spend on their defense budgets in 2014. Only eight of the 29 members currently meet that goal, but all members have pledged to dedicate the money by 2024.

The new formula, which will result in other member countries picking up former U.S. funding, was reportedly agreed to this week. One defense official told CNN that the money saved by the U.S. will help fund other military operations in Europe.

"All Allies have agreed a new cost sharing formula. Under the new formula, cost shares attributed to most European Allies and Canada will go up, while the U.S. share will come down," an unnamed NATO official told CNN. "This is an important demonstration of Allies’ commitment to the Alliance and to fairer burden-sharing."

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE is set to travel to London next week to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the alliance. For years, he has blasted the other members of the alliance and U.S. leadership for paying a greater portion than other member countries.

NATO officials, including Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, have credited Trump with the rise in spending in the organization, CNN reported. NATO has spent an extra $100 billion since 2014, but officials have also acknowledged that the funds have increased over Russian seizure in Crimea. 

The civilian NATO budget was set at approximately $260.5 million for 2019. The money is used primarily to fund the NATO headquarters. The organization has a military budget of $1.56 billion for the year. Overall defense spending by member nations is set to exceed more than $1 trillion in 2019.