The White House budget office believes it has found a way to cancel billions of dollars of foreign aid even if it is never approved by Congress, according to a Republican aide familiar with the plan.
Using an obscure budget rule, administration officials are planning to freeze billions of dollars in the State Department’s international assistance budget — just long enough so the funds will expire. The current plan involves about $3 billion, though officials are said to have discussed as much as $5 billion.
The White House plans to submit the package of so-called rescissions in the coming days, which triggers an automatic freeze on those funds for 45 days. The cuts would largely come from the U.S. funding for the United Nations, according to the aide.
With exactly 45 days left in fiscal 2018, the State Department wouldn’t be able to use those funds even if Congress rejects the request because those dollars will have expired by Oct. 1.
It would be the second time the Trump administration has submitted this kind of presidential rescissions package. The White House’s last request, which would have reclaimed $15 billion across multiple agencies, narrowly passed the House and was rejected by the GOP-led Senate. It was the first time a president had used the rescissions process since 2000.