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Over $3 Billion In Foreign Aid Is Safe… For Now

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© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

By Lauren Weber, HuffPost

The Trump administration’s plans to take back over $3 billion in congressionally allocated foreign aid were killed Tuesday in a major win for foreign assistance, sources told HuffPost.

The planned rescissions targeted foreign assistance through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. State Department. The global development community saw the effort as a way for the Trump administration to circumvent Congress and achieve a version of the foreign aid cuts initially proposed in earlier budgets as part of President Donald Trump’s “America First” ethos.

The decision to not go through with the rescission package ― which was confirmed by Kevin Rachlin of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations ― follows a Tuesday midday meeting between Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Office of Management and Budget head and fiscal hawk Mick Mulvaney.

InterAction had been organizing lobbying efforts to fight the potential rescission, and Rachlin was pleased with the news.

“Cutting critical foreign assistance programs could harm U.S. efforts to save lives, strengthen civil society, support good governance and create economic opportunity,” he said.

In a statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the move a “welcome decision.”

“Rescinding funds that had been agreed to by Congress and signed into law by the President, in the waning days of the fiscal year, would have set a terrible precedent and harmed programs that further United States interests around the world,” Leady said. “For the appropriations process to function we need assurance that the Congress’s constitutional power of the purse will be respected.”

Lawmakers from both parties had earlier condemned the effort to “freeze” money that hadn’t been spent in the days before the federal government’s fiscal year ended on Sept. 30. Under the rescission plan, whatever money was not spent would have been returned to the U.S. Treasury. Congressional attempts to stop such a move would have required floor time, which is difficult this late in the year. Take a vote on foreign assistance is also unappealing for many this close to midterm elections.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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