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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has supported the White House’s proposal to cut his department’s funding by 28 percent, or over $10 billion, contained in a draft budget that still has to get the approval of Congress.
In a letter to the staff of the department, Tillerson said that the move indicates a change of priorities for the agency, reflecting a “restatement” of U.S. needs.
Speaking at a news conference during his visit to Japan, Tillerson said, as quoted by media, that the current level of spending at the State Department was “unsustainable”, going on to add that the cut was based on expectations that the U.S. will reduce its participation in military conflicts in the future, while its allies become more active in humanitarian aid distribution and disaster relief – the budget cut will also affect USAID.
The current budget of the State Department exceeds $50 billion, but if the new budget is approved, it will be cut to $37.6 billion, of which $12 billion for operations in war-torn regions. Funding for international climate change initiatives and cultural and educational programs will be eliminated in some cases and substantially reduced in others.
The BBC notes that although both chambers of Congress are dominated by the Republicans, the draft budget – concerning only the $1-billion part of the annual budget that is distributed among government agencies and departments – may face some strong opposition in some of its parts.
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Besides the State Department, the draft budget also envisages cuts for environmental initiatives and medical research, as well as for Amtrak. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting will be left completely empty-handed. The EPA will take a blow of 31.4 percent, equal to $2.6 billion.
The Defense Department, however, will come out a winner: the draft proposes a $54-billion increase in its budget, of which $2 billion is for nuclear weapons. This would be a 10-percent rise on the current allocation. Homeland Security will also benefit if the draft is approved, with a 6.8-percent increase of its budget.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.