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Aid Groups Warn of 'Untold Suffering for Millions' as Trump Weighs Billions in Cuts to UN Humanitarian Programs

Trump's budget office reportedly sent the proposed cuts to the State Department for review despite protests from advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers

President Donald Trump's budget office sent a proposal calling for $4.3 billion in foreign aid cuts to the State Department for review on Thursday, August 15, 2019. (Photo: Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to request $4.3 billion in cuts to United Nations humanitarian programs and other foreign aid initiatives, a move advocacy groups warned would have "devastating" consequences for millions of people around the world.

Roll Call reported that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent the proposal to the State Department for review on Thursday.

According to Politico, which cited an anonymous administration official, the cuts Trump is preparing to send to Congress for approval include:

  • $787 million from U.N. global peacekeeping initiatives;
  • $522 million from core U.N. funding; and
  • $364 million from U.N. humanitarian programs.

Jordie Hannum, executive director of the Better World Campaign, an advocacy group that works to foster a stronger relationship between the U.S. and U.N., said the Trump administration's potential cuts to peacekeeping missions would make the world less safe and harm millions of people.

"They'd be sabotaging these missions," Hannum said, "and ensuring untold suffering for millions of innocent civilians who rely on the missions for protection."

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Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, urged the White House budget office to cease its effort to slash foreign aid funds that were appropriated by Congress in 2017.

"The funds were appropriated by overwhelming bipartisan majorities and the lengthy negotiations between the House, the Senate, the White House," Lowey told Politico. "And they were signed into law by the president. So cuts to foreign aid have repeatedly been rejected on a bipartisan basis."

The Trump administration's proposal comes days after the budget office ordered a freeze on the funds, angering aid groups and Democratic lawmakers.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, called the freeze "dangerous" and accused the Trump administration of sidestepping congressional authority.

"This administration's contempt for Congress is astounding," said Engel. "When Congress decides how much we spend on foreign assistance, it isn't a suggestion. It's the law, backed up by the Constitution."

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