WASHINGTON (March 16, 2017) – The global poverty-fighting organization CARE is deeply troubled by the Trump Administration’s budget request released today, which would slash funding for critical foreign assistance programs by roughly one-third in order to offset increases in defense spending.
Specifically, the budget proposal calls for the consolidation of the United States’ essential development and humanitarian agencies and the redistribution of both humanitarian and development assistance to “countries of greatest strategic importance.” CARE is concerned that countries most in need could be overlooked, leaving millions of additional people vulnerable to emergencies, increased poverty and conflict. If enacted, this proposal would represent a retreat from America’s leadership in the world and would threaten our country’s ability to safeguard against the desperation and instability often caused by extreme poverty and suffering.
“Since 1977, increased funding to the Department of Defense has generally been complemented by increased support for the International Affairs account,” said Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of CARE. “Past administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, have understood that development and diplomacy are critical parts of our national security strategy. If accepted, the president’s proposed cuts would be historic, and their significant impacts on this critical 1 percent of the budget will make us less safe, not more. CARE calls on Congress to develop a budget that protects lives, supports our national security and maintains our nation’s leadership in the world.”
CARE is also concerned by the proposal to cut government funding for the current fiscal year, which runs through September, including the potential for cuts to foreign assistance. This is especially worrying at a time when the world is facing the threat of an unprecedented four simultaneous famines. With more than 20 million people facing famine conditions in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia – and millions still displaced by the conflict in Syria – now is not the time for the U.S. to pull back from its leadership role.
In response to these proposed cuts, a coalition of anti-poverty organizations, led by CARE, has launched the #WorthThePenny campaign to demonstrate how vital U.S. foreign assistance programs account for a mere penny of the federal budget dollar.
Foreign assistance represents less than 1 percent of the federal budget but saves millions of lives every year, addresses the root causes of poverty, increases independence and builds stronger, more resilient societies. Beyond saving countless lives, foreign assistance benefits our own nation’s security by alleviating suffering, decreasing poverty and creating a more stable and prosperous world for everyone.
In the face of these crises, the proposed cuts will further destabilize fragile countries and put innocent lives at risk. Robust funding for both humanitarian and development assistance accounts is badly needed to address current crises and deter future ones. These accounts must be protected in the FY17 and FY18 budgets.