WAND particularly concerned about cuts to State, AID
During tonight’s address to a joint session of Congress, President Trump reiterated his desire to provide more money for the Pentagon, already the largest federal agency in the U.S. Government. Earlier this week, the White House indicated that it would seek to increase security-related spending by $54 billion relative to budget projections and decrease spending on other federally-funded programs by the same amount. While key Members of Congress have said this budget is dead on arrival, these details are useful insofar as they provide insight into Trump’s vision for America.
As a national women’s peace and security organization, WAND is particularly concerned about cuts to the Department of State and Agency for International Development (USAID), which Trump has proposed to cut by 37 percent. In particular, programs that benefit women and girls may be on the chopping block, given the transition team’s “tasker” into these programs.
Erica Fein, WAND’s nuclear weapons policy director, said “The entire State Department costs less than one percent of the federal budget, yet it puts America in the position to lead, to influence global outcomes, and to keep Americans safe. Particularly when it comes to promoting women’s inclusion in combating terrorism and post-conflict re-building, research suggests that small investments help promote stability and achieve a more lasting peace. Such programs are not only for the benefit of in-country participants, but for all Americans, who have a vested interest in a stable and secure world.”
In addition, Trump provided few details about how he would pay for the increase to defense-related spending.He did say, however, that he will seek the help of Congress to lift the sequestration caps on defense spending. Since the enactment of the Budget Control Act, Democrats have remained firmly committed to the parity principle -- any increase above the cap for defense should see an equal increase to domestic programs. Lifting the cap for only defense would break this principle.
“If President Trump were serious about strengthening our already robust military, he would first see to it that he could accurately assess its assets - beginning with an audit of the Pentagon,” said Diane Russell, WAND’s national security political director. “It is impossible for the Pentagon to know what it truly needs if it doesn’t know what it actually has.”
“Paying for a Pentagon increase by gutting diplomacy and social safety net programs takes our national security in the wrong direction, making us less safe. Other agencies have very important roles in projecting American strength worldwide, reducing threats.” Russell concluded.