Senate report blasts Trump's foreign policy


The Senate Appropriations Committee tore into the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy in a new report, criticizing the White House’s proposed State Department budget as reflective of an “apparent doctrine of retreat” abroad. 

The unusually harsh language appeared in the report attached to spending legislation for the State Department and foreign operations that totals $51 billion, about $11 billion more in funding than the administration had requested. The Trump administration had proposed a budget that slashed State Department spending for fiscal year 2018 by about 30 percent from the previous year. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, chairman of the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, submitted the report. The spending bill was approved by the full Appropriations Committee 31-0 on Friday. Graham’s report suggested the administration’s budget request flies in the face of the president’s stated goals of American greatness.

“On May 23, 2017, President Donald Trump submitted to the Congress the fiscal year 2018 budget of the United States government entitled, ‘A New Foundation for American Greatness,’ and asserted in ‘The Budget Message of the President’ that ‘[i]n these dangerous times, our increased attention to public safety and national security sends a clear message to the world — a message of American strength and resolve,'” the report said. “This message is not reflected in the International Affairs budget request of $40,521,826,000, a 30 percent cut below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.”

“The lessons learned since September 11, 2001, include the reality that defense alone does not provide for American strength and resolve abroad,” the report continued. “Battlefield technology and firepower cannot replace diplomacy and development. The administration’s apparent doctrine of retreat, which also includes distancing the United States from collective and multilateral dispute resolution frameworks, serves only to weaken America’s standing in the world.”

The Senate report suggested the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “arbitrarily” established funding levels for the International Affairs budget, “without any input” from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Security Council or another national security agency, forcing State and USAID to “randomly” allocate funding for countries and programs that “lacked any justification.”

Reuters first cited the report. 

The White House and OMB did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Congress, not the White House or executive branch departments, ultimately sets spending levels. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has defended the proposed cuts to the State Department. 

“It is an unmistakable restatement of the needs the country faces and the priorities we must establish,” Tillerson said in a letter to the department’s 75,000 employees in March. “It acknowledges that U.S. engagement must be more efficient, that our aid be more effective, and that advocating the national interests of our country always be our primary mission.”

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