Foreign Aid

White House weighing proposal to tie aid to countries’ treatment of religious minorities: report

The White House is reportedly weighing a proposal to tie foreign aid to how countries treat religious minorities.

President Trump’s administration is in the early stages of drafting a proposal expected to apply to U.S. humanitarian aid but that could expand to cover military aid as well, two White House officials told Politico.

{mosads}Officials from the National Security Council, the Domestic Policy Council, the State Department and Vice President Pence’s office have reportedly met discreetly about the proposal. 

“The vice president is always proud to support religious freedom both here at home and abroad,” Pence’s press secretary Katie Waldman told Politico.

The proposal could greatly change how aid is distributed around the world. The officials said that the administration is considering using the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s designations of countries of “particular concern.” The top-tier offenders on its list include both countries that are allies, like Saudi Arabia, and opponents, like Iran.

One official said the proposal would reflect how aid is limited to countries that are unsuccessful on the annual U.S. report on human trafficking.

The Trump administration has vocally prioritized religious freedom, with the president calling attention to the subject during his speech in front of the United Nations earlier this year. 

The aid restrictions would also come as the Trump administration is under scrutiny for withholding military aid from Ukraine after asking the country to investigate potential 2020 opponent Joe Biden and his son. A whistleblower report discussing the withholding of aid sparked the House impeachment inquiry. 

The Hill reached out to the White House for comment.

Tags Donald Trump Foreign Aid Joe Biden Mike Pence religious freedom U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom White House
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