Censor.NET reports citing Foreign Policy referring to an internal budget document and sources.
The administration's March budget proposal vowed to slash aid to developing countries by over one-third, but contained few details. According to a detailed 15-page State Department budget document obtained by Foreign Policy, the overhaul also includes rechanneling funding from development assistance into a program that is tied closely to national security objectives.
The document details how the Trump administration's plans to reduce direct foreign assistance would take place in fiscal year 2018.
Some of the cuts appear directed at countries that had been regarded as strategically important. For instance, foreign assistance to Ukraine, which is used to encourage political and economic reform, is facing a 68.8 percent cut.
"One of the major themes and purposes and directions of U.S. policy in Ukraine for years and years has been to encourage them to move toward European institutions," said William Taylor, the former ambassador to Ukraine under George W. Bush and now vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace. "It's in our interest that they don't move toward Russian institutions."
Many organizations and experts oppose cutting the foreign aid to developing countries.
"That will end the technical expertise of USAID, and in my view, it will be an unmitigated disaster for the longer term," said Andrew Natsios, the former USAID Administrator under President George W. Bush. "I predict we will pay the price. We will pay the price for the poorly thought out and ill-considered organization changes that we're making, and cuts in spending as well."
According to Natsios, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger similarly diverted funds during the Cold War. Natsios pointed to the consultations that current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has had with Kissinger and believes that the elder statesman may be influencing the administration's attitude toward foreign aid restructuring.
"I think Dr. Kissinger is one of our greatest Secretaries of State. He has, however, not been one of our supporters over the long term for development assistance, said Natsios. "Dr. Kissinger's analysis, in my view, is completely wrong."
Given the steep bipartisan opposition to slashing foreign assistance, Congress likely will not consent to the entire proposed reduction. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham went as far as to declare Trump's budget "dead on arrival."
Nonetheless, aid experts still expect the final budget passed by Congress to lower spending levels on assistance.
The State Department and USAID declined to comment on potentially merging the two entities, and noted that the White House will release a more detailed budget later this spring.
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