We’ve been voicing alarm about the incredibly deep cuts to diplomacy and foreign aid that the Trump administration has proposed for 2018. When we talk to people in the House of Representatives, they tend to share our alarm about the cuts, which would slash aid to Latin America by 35 percent from last year’s levels.
But when we talk to Senate staff, they generally wave their hands and say “don’t worry about it.”
You can see that here, in this opening statement by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at Tuesday’s committee hearing on the budget with Secretary of State Tillerson. After heaping praise on Tillerson, Corker, with his usual laconic delivery, lets him have it on the proposed budget cuts.
We sat down yesterday in the middle of the Russia negotiations. I took some time out to sit down with my staff, and we began going through the budget that you’re presenting today. And after about five minutes, I said, “This is a total waste of time, I don’t want to do this anymore.”
And the reason it’s wasted time is, I think you know that the budget that’s been presented is not going to be the budget that we’re going to deal with. It’s just not.
And, I mean, the fact is that Congress has a tremendous respect for the diplomatic efforts that are underway, the aid that we provide in emergency situations, and it’s likely and– and by the way, this happens with every presidential budget, every presidential budget. This one in particular, though, it’s likely that what comes out of Congress is likely not going to resemble what is being presented today.
And so I felt it was a total waste of time to go through the line items and even discuss them, because it’s not what is going to occur.