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Trump Administration Freezes Some Foreign Aid Accounts Pending Review; Critics Fear Rescission Proposal Will Move Forward

CNN: Trump administration freezes foreign aid funds pending review
“The Trump administration has put a temporary hold on [several accounts] of congressionally approved foreign aid funds, pending a review by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Critics say the move undercuts Congress and fear that it is another attempt by the administration to cancel aid programs that advocates see as vital to U.S. interests. The Office of Management and Budget informed the two agencies in a letter Saturday that unobligated funds would be frozen until ‘three business days after’ State and USAID provide an accounting of how much remains in specific accounts and how the funds are being spent. Those funds expire on September 30, the end of the fiscal year…” (Hansler et al., 8/7).

Devex: Trump administration resurrects ‘rescission’ proposal in latest attack on U.S. aid spending
“…The funding in question totals between $2 billion and $4 billion that is set to expire when the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, according to people familiar with the accounts. … Last year the White House considered using the same budgetary authority — a relatively obscure process known as ‘rescission’ — to target U.S. global development funding. USAID’s country missions managed to quickly spend much of their remaining unobligated funds, and OMB ultimately abandoned that plan. People with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Devex they believe the White House will move forward with the rescission proposal this year. … In a barrage of statements, U.S. development advocates were quick to condemn the administration’s apparent plan…” (Igoe, 8/7).

Roll Call: White House blocks foreign aid funds, demands accounting
“…For the last three years, the White House has produced budget proposals that would [cut] funding for foreign aid, and each year Congress, on a bipartisan basis, has rejected those proposed cuts. The ‘use it or lose it’ mentality of federal agencies to spend appropriated funds before they expire at the end of the fiscal year is a well-known reality of Washington. Still, no other federal agency is known to have received a letter from OMB directing it to freeze spending while an accounting is made of the remaining balances…” (Oswald/Mejdrich, 8/6).

U.N. Dispatch: The White House is Trying to Make and End Run Around Congress to Strip Funding for Diplomacy and Development
“…[Last year,] the U.S. Government Accountability Office ruled that strategically timed rescissions intended to beat the clock on previously appropriated funds did not comport with the 1974 budget law. That ruling has apparently not stopped the White House from trying this procedural and budgetary legerdemain again. Deeper still, the letter from OMB to USAID ordering a spending freeze occurred when [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] was out of D.C., on a trip to the Asia-Pacific region…” (Goldberg, 8/6).