WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump is requesting $5.3 billion for the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program for 2019, a $1 billion cut from what Congress is expected to budget.
The U.S. has frozen aid to Pakistan to pressure it to target of terrorist groups operating on its soil. What the administration does budget for Pakistan FMF — $80 million — is a steep drop from $350 million in 2017 and “contingent” on Islamabad taking action “to address areas of national divergence.”
All told, the administration is seeking $4.8 billion in base funding, and $570 million in budget-cap exempt wartime funds. The request is a $266 million increase over Trump’s fiscal 2018 request, which roughly reflects an increase in Israeli aid. However, it’s a $1 billion dip from what Congress appropriated in fiscal 2017, according to budget documents.
Congress has yet to pass fiscal 2018 appropriations, but a Senate proposal allots $6.3 billion.
A State Department official pointed to the increase over Trump’s FY18 proposal, which came “despite fiscal constraints.” The White House is proposing $39.3 billion for the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development, down from about $55 billion last year.
Israel will receive $3.3 billion, marking the first year of the new, 10-year memorandum of understanding between Washington and Jerusalem. Egypt and Jordan funding is flat at $1.3 billion and $350 million respectively.
Last year, the White House proposed converting the grants program to loans, an idea that faced headwinds in Congress. This year, the administration is proposing a $75 million flexible fund designated “global.”
“Where possible and appropriate, the U.S. government will seek to use loans to solidify partner-nation commitments and leverage U.S. assistance to the greatest effect,” budget documents say.
The remaining $172 million is divided between Lebanon, Tunisia, the Philippines, Colombia, Ukraine and Vietnam.
Joe Gould is the Congress and industry reporter at Defense News, covering defense budget and policy matters on Capitol Hill as well as industry news.