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Trump pitches 37 percent cut to State Department budget
The Trump administration is proposing a 37 percent spending cut for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to multiple reports.
U.S. officials say the suggested decrease would likely require laying off employees, including security contractors at diplomatic facilities overseas, The Associated Press said Tuesday.
The AP said development assistance would likely take the biggest hit, citing officials familiar with the proposal.
The agencies together received $50.1 billion during the current fiscal year, it added, a little more than 1 percent of the total federal budget.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said he would oppose drastic cuts to the State Department.
"Probably not," he said when asked if Congress could pass a 37 percent reduction at the department, according to Fox News.
The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that the new administration is examining the growth in spending at State under former President Barack Obama.
Trump administration officials are scrutinizing the addition of special envoys during Obama's tenure, the Journal reported, though reducing their number would not cover the entirety of the proposed cuts.
One U.S. official told the Journal that the State Department is looking at its development assistance to foreign countries as a significant source for budget trimming instead.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) earlier Tuesday noted the importance of the State Department's foreign aid to America's domestic safety.
The administration announced Monday it is proposing a budget that would increase defense spending by $54 billion and shrink nondefense spending by the same amount.
Reports emerged later that Trump is expected to demand big cuts at the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund his defense spending boost.
Office of Management and Budget officials have not specified where the overall reductions would occur.
The EPA's reductions are less severe, with as much as 24 percent of its budget possible getting pruned according to reports Monday.
Trump officials will purportedly float a $6.1 billion budget for the EPA next year, a $2 billion cut from current levels.
Reports said the plan could result in layoffs for 20 percent of EPA staff, reducing its total employment to 15,000 to 12,000 workers.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said Trump's reported plans for his first budget were "dead on arrival."
"It's not going to happen," he said, according to NBC News. "It would be a disaster. A budget this lean would put those who serve overseas for the State Department at risk. And it's not going to happen."
Trump's first budget proposal is slated for a March 16 lease, but a lack of details about its contents is already fueling bipartisan concerns.
[Source: By Mark Hensch, The Hill, Washington, 28Feb17]
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