Trump’s budget on the menu as US senators have lunch with Tillerson

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson comments on visa and travel issues.

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss the administration’s proposed budget, the panel’s chairman said on Wednesday, following heated opposition in Congress to the President Donald Trump‘s plan to cut funding for diplomacy and abroad. help.

“I’ve let Secretary Tillerson know that there is a lot of concern about the budget issue,” Senator Bob Corker, the committee’s Republican chair, said at a hearing on the global humanitarian crisis.

Members of the Senate panel will have lunch with Tillerson at the State Department on Thursday, he said.

Corker also made clear that when Congress adopts agriculture-related legislation next year, it will push to reform current rules for the distribution of US food aid, making it more costly and slower to provide assistance after crises. international

“We could feed 4 to 6 million more people each year,” he said, saying that some interest groups pushing to keep the current rules are “extorting” us.

Yves Daccord, director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria and Somalia, as well as Ethiopia and Kenya, may be among the worst in recent history.

“We’re talking about 20 million directly affected, plus … several other dozen million possibly affected,” Daccord said at the hearing.

The ICRC said Wednesday that the world has only a few months to save millions of people in Yemen and Somalia from hunger as war and drought ruin crops and block delivery of food and medical care.

Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, opposed his first budget draft last week, which boosted military spending and slashed international programs by 28 percent. They said that humanitarian assistance and diplomacy are at least as important to security as weapons.

“It is essential that we maintain our international affairs budget, from this senator’s perspective,” Republican Sen. Todd Young said at the hearing.

The budget presented by Trump is unlikely to pass. Congress, not the White House, determines public spending.

Corker told reporters Tuesday that he supported efforts to make State Department programs more efficient, but he wanted a more comprehensive review of various programs.

“I think all government departments need to be continuously scrutinized, so I’m in favor of investigating that,” Corker said. “But I would like to go over some of the areas that he (Tillerson) feels he wants to emphasize, and obviously Congress will finally have the floor (on the budget).”

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