WASHINGTON – Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Rep. Tom Emmer are joining forces to fight a budget proposal from the Trump administration that would cut billions of dollars in funding to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.
The budget proposal would cut $17.3 billion in funding, a 31 percent reduction. With the Horn of Africa facing severe drought and famine, Emmer and Klobuchar believe the proposed cut is poorly timed. In a joint letter to the Trump administration, the lawmakers addressed their concerns over the proposed cuts.
“The drastic cuts you propose will undoubtedly limit American global leadership and shortchange the contributions we make across the globe to development and humanitarian assistance [sic],” the lawmakers wrote. “As the world begins to mobilize in response to the drought in the Horn of Africa, funding cuts could cost lives and prevent our diplomatic agencies from continuing the work they do to promote American security and economic interests.”
Emmer and Klobuchar, along with the American Refugee Committee, hosted a roundtable discussion in Minneapolis last Thursday. Speaking to community leaders and local nonprofits, the lawmakers discussed how the federal aid reduction would impact countries like Somalia and what the country should be doing to respond to the humanitarian crisis.
“Our country’s role as a world leader depends on both a strong military and our ability to provide foreign aid to help stabilize the economies of countries in dire need,” Klobuchar wrote in a Facebook post following the event. “That’s why we’re working on a bipartisan basis, urging the President to reconsider the severe $17.3 billion cut to the State Department and USAID.”
This is not the first time the region has suffered from a famine. In 2011, Somalia lost 260,000 people to a famine. With Minnesota having one of the largest East African populations in the country, the famine hits close to home for Emmer and Klobuchar.
“Many of our constituents lost loved ones and are concerned that history will repeat itself,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter urging President Donald Trump to reconsider the proposed cuts.
The proposed federal aid cuts come as the Trump administration proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending. For Emmer and Klobuchar, an increase in defense spending is not the only way to protect the U.S. and promote peace. They believe federal aid to areas like the Horn of Africa help promotes security here at home.
“Lasting peace and stability does not come from military solutions alone,” Emmer and Klobuchar wrote. “While we must be vigilant in ensuring our assistance is delivered efficiently and effectively, dramatic cuts undermine our strategic and economic goals and are not in the best interest of the American people.”