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Speaker Nancy Pelosi is warning the Trump administration that a White House proposal to cut billions of dollars in foreign aid could imperil a recent two-year budget agreement.
Before leaving for the August recess, Congress passed a massive budget deal that suspended the debt ceiling through July 2021 and decreased the likelihood of a government shutdown. But the White House more recently has been eyeing a so-called rescissions package, which would impose more than $4 billion in cuts to the United States Agency for International Development and the State Department.
In a letter dated Friday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Pelosi warned that such a package could be approved only by Congress, according to a legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office. She assured Mnuchin that Congress would take no such action and urged the administration to reconsider.
“I request that you work within the administration to stop this proposed rescission which GAO states is illegal, which violates the good faith of our budget negotiations, which important Republicans say is ill advised, and which overrides Congress’ most fundamental Constitutional power,” Pelosi wrote.
While Congress approved the budget deal this summer, it wasn’t an easy sell for Republicans, despite backing from President Donald Trump and GOP leadership. Several Republicans expressed concern about the agreement's effect on the federal deficit. In the end, 132 House Republicans and 23 Senate Republicans voted against the agreement.
Pelosi’s also noted in her letter that several Republicans have warned the administration against the rescissions package, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations committees; Sen. James Risch of Idaho, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee; Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, ranking member of the House committee that oversees State Department funding; and Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Graham and Rogers warned Trump in a Friday letter that the “rescission package could complicate the ability of the administration and Congress to work constructively on future appropriations deals” and undermine national security.