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US to cut foreign aid to wasteful or unlawful programs

A senior Trump administration official says the White House plans to cut aid used to fund abortions in West Africa. It’s part of a new goal to redistribute America’s international foreign aid around the world.

Specifically, the blueprint would no longer provide ‘voluntary family planning money’ to the countries of Sierra Leone, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Benin. Family planning funds are often used for abortion.

“The President himself has stated that there is a lot of fat in the foreign assistance we provide,” according to the senior official. “While there are many great programs we support around the world, taxpayer dollars should not be spent on ‘voluntary family planning’ in Africa — which could include abortion. This administration is committed to cutting wasteful spending and protecting the unborn.”

The release of the specific international aid cuts is expected as early as Tuesday.

The moves are part of what is known as a “rescissions package,” meaning the canceling of billions of unspent foreign assistance funds, which could total more than four billion dollars. Administration officials say more than 100 countries overall will be targeted for cuts.

As for the ‘voluntary family planning’ funds, they are typically dispersed through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  The administration has discovered that some of those family planning funds used in West African nations actually evade or skirt around what is known as America’s, ‘Mexico City Policy,’ which requires non-governmental organizations to agree not to “perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.” That is the reason the rescissions money specifically looks to get rid of funds going to those individual programs in West Africa.

Beyond family planning, White House officials are also looking to cut funding to many other programs including paying for Chinese-made solar panels in Central Asia, desert “survival courses” in Egypt and cuts to border security funds provided to more than a dozen countries including El Salvador who have been found to misdirect the monies to other areas.

Democrats in Congress and even some top Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)  are against the proposed cuts. White House officials believe they have the power to cancel the funds without approval from Congress. That’s a point of contention moving forward.

The overall argument by senior officials inside the Trump administration is that many of these foreign aid programs that are targeted in the current rescissions package have had a history of waste and abuse and therefore the view that US tax dollar money is being used to fund corruption around the world.

The competing view is that the money spent by America overseas is crucial for national security. Proponents of this approach say the funds help unstable countries become more self-sufficient, which in turn keeps them from becoming bad international actors, which would make the world a more dangerous place.