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Trump says he will decide on foreign aid spending cuts within week

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Trump says he will decide on foreign aid spending cuts within week
FILE PHOTO: The logo of USAID is seen at a community kitchen set-up by them and the World Food Programme in Cucuta, Colombia February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Marco Bello   -   Copyright  MARCO BELLO(Reuters)
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he was looking at various options for a budget package that could cut billions of dollars in foreign aid and that he would decide on the issue “sooner than a week.”

Defying Congress, Trump administration officials have said they are reviewing State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development spending with an eye to using a budget process known as “rescission” to slash up to $4.3 billion in spending.

Many members of Congress, including some of Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, have called on the administration to cancel, or pare back, its plans. They say the plan – developed within weeks of Trump signing a two-year budget deal into law – could imperil lawmakers’ future willingness to negotiate spending deals with the White House.

Sources familiar with the discussions said that the administration was divided over the spending plan. Senior officials said last week they expected it to be sent to Congress on Tuesday.

According to the sources, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and USAID Director Mark Green were among administration officials urging Trump to drastically pare back the rescission plan. Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, was among those pushing for the cuts.

Opponents of the plan argued that funding programs that fight poverty, empower women, support education and promote global health – which account for less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget – are worthwhile investments that save on security costs in the long run.

Many also argue that Trump’s use of the “rescission” loophole is an effort to sidestep Congress’ power, spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, to determine how money is spent.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Steve Holland and Lesley Wroughton; additional reporting by Tim Ahmann and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Dan Grebler)

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