White House to Freeze Funding of Foreign Aid Passed in $2.3 Trillion Spending Bill

President Donald Trump is working to freeze key foreign aid programs which were approved in a $2.

President Donald Trump is working to freeze key foreign aid programs which were approved in a $2.3 trillion spending bill approved by Congress.

Trump had decried the spending bill which also incorporated the COVID-19 relief package, demanding congress revise it to “get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items.” The president had also stated that COVID1-19 stimulus payments were not large enough and to provide citizens significantly more money.

Trump eventually signed the bill after lawmakers ramped up the pressure, stoking public fears of coronavirus relief benefits and moratoriums expiring if the bill was not passed expeditiously.

Following surmounting pressure, the president said in a statement “I will sign the omnibus and covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed… I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill.

Now the president is making good on that promise by preparing to temporarily freeze certain foreign aid in an effort to slow the funding of programs that were included in the bill.

Earlier this week, the Office of Management and Budget sent a notice to officials working on U.S. foreign aid programs saying that recessions will be announced soon, according to unnamed sources cited by the Washington Post.

The White House cannot unilaterally stop the funding, however it can significantly delay funding by requesting that Congress reassess the expenditures. It is expected that lawmakers will reject the efforts.

Trump’s demand which includes “many rescissions,” is carried out under the Impoundment Control Act that permits him to send notice to Congress of a proposed rescission. Congress then has 45 days to approve the rescission, otherwise the funds are unfrozen and must be spent as was originally delegated in the spending package.

Included in the items that President Trump considers wasteful are a $1.3 billion for Egypt which he speculates will go to buy Russian military equipment, $25 million for gender programs in Pakistan and $40 million for the Kennedy Center in Washington which is currently shutdown due to COVID-19.

Trump has been a strong proponent of reducing the amount of U.S. taxpayer money which goes overseas to foreign countries.

The White House has on multiple occasions attempted to cut the transfer of money sent to foreign countries by using the rescission process, however it has largely been ineffectual and rebuffed by Congress.

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