President Trump reportedly plans to merge the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), according to a Monday Foreign Policy report.
The White House budget proposal released in March previewed a proposed one-third cut to the U.S. government’s financial assistance to developing countries, without providing many details of what would be slashed.
FP obtained a 15-page internal State Department document detailing the administration’s budget plans for the 2018 fiscal year, including its plans to curb foreign aid.
Field missions, regional bureaus, global health funding and food programs are all on the chopping block, FP reports.
Acting USAID Administrator Wade Warren reportedly told employees during a recent staff meeting that the White House may merge USAID with the State Department in order to comply with Trump’s executive order aiming to streamline the executive branch. The order requires every agency to submit a plan for the approval of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
The administration’s 2018 budget proposal pointedly suggests the consolidation, saying, “The need for State and USAID to pursue greater efficiencies through reorganization and consolidation in order to enable effective diplomacy and development.”
While the U.S. Information Agency folded into the State Department in 1999, the magazine reports that USAID could be a more polarizing merger because of its mission to fight diseases and provide food security around the globe.
“That will end the technical expertise of USAID, and in my view, it will be an unmitigated disaster for the longer term,” Andrew Natsios, USAID administrator under former President George W. Bush, told FP. “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.”
Congress would have to approve the budget, and it is not entirely clear whether the proposed reductions would pass.
The White House is expected to release a more detailed budget later this spring.
The State Department and USAID declined Foreign Policy’s request for comment on the possible merger. “[W]e intend to make the best use of U.S. taxpayer dollars by eliminating programs and prioritizing resources that most advance America’s interests,” a USAID spokesperson told the magazine.