Nancy Pelosi warns cuts in foreign aid could jeopardize budget deal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s letter further noted that several Republicans have warned the administration against the rescissions package | Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

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 USAID and the State Department.

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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, a total of 132 House Republicans voted against the agreement, along with 23 Senate Republicans.

Pelosi’s letter further noted that several Republicans have warned the administration against the rescissions package, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees and Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), ranking member of the House committee that oversees State Department funding, and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a letter Friday to President Donald Trump, Graham and Rogers warned that the “rescission package could complicate the ability of the administration and Congress to work constructively on future appropriations deals” and undermine national security.