Trump budget: Rex Tillerson defends foreign aid budget squeeze

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has defended swingeing budget cuts to his own department proposed by President Donald Trump.

Speaking in Japan, he said the level of state department spending in the past had been “simply not sustainable” and he willingly accepted the “challenge”.

If Congress backs the budget, and that is far from a done deal, the state department and USAID face cuts of 28%.

Budget savings would benefit the military primarily.

Environmental programmes, medical research and the Amtrak long-distance rail network would all lose out.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the largest source of public broadcasting money in the US, would lose its funding completely.

While Mr Trump’s Republicans control both houses of Congress, segments of the budget plan are expected to face stiff resistance across the parties.

The budget, known as a “skinny budget”, will be limited to the $1tn portion of the $4tn annual federal budget that pays for US agencies and departments.

At a news conference in Tokyo, the US secretary of state said the White House was acting on the expectation that there would be fewer military conflicts involving the US directly “as time goes by” and that its allies would do more themselves to contribute to development aid and disaster assistance.

The state department was “coming off a historically high allocation of resources”, he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

“We are going to be able to do a lot with fewer dollars,” he said.

Source: BBC

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