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Secretary Of State Tillerson Defends Trump Administration’s Proposed Diplomatic, Foreign Aid Budget Cuts In Senate Committee Hearings

Associated Press/New York Times: Tillerson Faces Strong Pushback on Diplomatic Budget Cuts
“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson faced harsh bipartisan criticism on Tuesday as he tried to defend the Trump administration’s proposed slashing of America’s diplomatic and foreign aid budget. Testifying before two Senate committees, Tillerson faced tough questions about the administration’s proposal to cut funding for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by more than 31 percent in the fiscal year beginning in October…” (6/13).

CQ News: Tillerson Says He Still Believes in Paris Pact, But Backs Trump
“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has previously backed the U.S. staying in the Paris climate agreement, told lawmakers on Tuesday that his views have ‘never changed’ but that he respects President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the international accord aimed at slowing global warming.​ … Tillerson indicated he still believed the U.S. should have kept a seat at the table but that he was not able to sway the president…” (Nawaguna, 6/13).

Devex: Senators promise rewrite of Trump’s foreign aid budget in hearings
“Senators dismissed United States President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to foreign assistance in two hearings on Tuesday, with members from both parties promising to not use the White House proposals as a guide in 2018 appropriations for aid. Members of both the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations made it clear that the budget Congress puts forward is likely to look quite different from the administration’s proposals…” (Saldinger, 6/14).

New York Times: Will Cuts Hurt Diplomacy? Tillerson Tries to Ease Senate’s Worries
“…Senators repeatedly asked whether issues such as the promotion of human rights, the protection of democracy, the campaign against human trafficking, or efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons were priorities for the administration. Mr. Tillerson assured the lawmakers that they were. But Republican and Democratic senators pressed a fundamental question: How can the Trump administration say it champions those efforts if it is cutting budgets for a range of important diplomatic initiatives — and eliminating others outright? Each time, Mr. Tillerson patiently answered that priorities should not be judged only by dollars spent…” (Harris, 6/13).

Washington Post: Senators sharply question State Department budget cuts
“… ‘Throughout my career I have never believed, or experienced, that the level of funding devoted to a goal is the most important factor in achieving it,’ said Tillerson, former chief executive of ExxonMobil. ‘Our budget will never determine our ability to be effective — our people will.’ Several other high-profile hearings were underway while Tillerson was on the hot seat, and most senators wandered away after grilling the top diplomat. In part, that was an acknowledgment that the money Congress ultimately allocates to the State Department is going to be higher than the administration ­requested…” (Morello/Gearan, 6/13).

VOA News: Tillerson Defends Proposed Cuts to Diplomacy, Foreign Aid Programs
“…[Senate Foreign Relations] Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, predicted Trump’s budget proposal would not remain intact as it makes its way through Congress. ‘The budget that’s been presented is not going to be the budget that we’re going to deal with,’ Corker said. Tillerson told lawmakers a review of the State Department and USAID is underway to determine how to reorganize them. He said the review would be completed at the end of 2017…” (6/13).

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