When President Donald Trump met Pope Francis this week, the U.S. leader renewed a commitment to fighting global famine and proudly announced a new multimillion-dollar American aid contribution to four African nations in crisis.
In the meeting, Trump “renewed the commitment of the United States to fighting global famine,” the White House said. “As he relayed at the Vatican, the United States is proud to announce more than $300 million in anti-famine spending, focused on the crises in Yemen, (South) Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria.”
Left unsaid by the president or the White House: His proposal to slash such funds by more than 40 percent in the next fiscal year.
While the Trump administration’s 2018 spending plan does not eliminate money for emergency food aid, it ends a critical program by consolidating it into a broader account that covers all international disaster assistance. Doing so reduces the amount of money the U.S. dedicates to fighting famine to $1.5 billion next year, from $2.6 billion in 2016. The reduction is likely even steeper compared to 2017, but the administration hasn’t calculated figures for this fiscal year because it doesn’t end until Sept. 30 and more money may be allocated for famine relief before then.
Trump officials say the proposed changes will streamline U.S. aid programs, eliminate redundancies and increase efficiency. Relief organizations fear less U.S. money will mean an increase in famine and hunger-related deaths, particularly in Africa, if Congress approves the budget. Trump’s overall proposal, however, is already prompting significant opposition from Republican and Democratic lawmakers.