VOA News By Reuters

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump will propose on Monday a 21% cut in foreign aid and slashes to social safety net programs in his $4.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2021, according to senior administration officials.

The budget will seek an increase in funds to counter developing economic threats from China and Russia, but will also raise funds by targeting $2 trillion in savings from mandatory spending programs in the United States. The budget assumes revenues of $3.8 trillion.

Trump, a Republican, sought in his budget proposal last year to slash foreign aid but faced steep resistance from Congress and did not prevail.

The president’s latest blueprint for administration spending proposals is unlikely to be passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, particularly in an election year.

Trump, who campaigned for the presidency in 2016 on a promise to build a wall along the U.S. Border with Mexico, will seek $2 billion in funding for further construction on that project, substantially less than the $8.6 billion he requested a  year ago. The administration shifted resources to the project from the military last year after Congress refused Trump’s request. The White House will not seek further funds from the military for the wall, a senior administration said.

The budget seeks $1 trillion to fund an infrastructure spending bill that both Democrats and Republicans have said is a priority. The two sides are unlikely to agree on any major legislation this year, though, as the two sides fight for control of the White House and Congress in the November elections.

The budget would raise military spending by 0.3% to $740.5 billion for the fiscal year 2021, starting Oct. 1 and propose higher outlays for defense and veterans, administration officials confirmed. But former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen raised concerns about how the foreign aid cuts would affect the U.S. civilian footprint around the world that helps reduce the need for military intervention.

“This is a moment when more investment in diplomacy and development is needed not less,” he wrote in a letter to top congressional leaders.

Trump’s foreign aid proposal seeks $44.1 billion in the upcoming fiscal year compared with $55.7 billion enacted in fiscal year 2020, an administration official said.

Spending cuts

The White House proposes to slash spending by $4.4 trillion over 10 years.

That includes $130 billion from changes to Medicare prescription-drug pricing, $292 billion from cuts in safety net programs – such as work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps – and $70 billion from clamping down on eligibility rules for federal disability benefits. Those changes are likely to spur Democrats’ ire.

The U.S. government ended fiscal year 2019 with the largest budget deficit in seven years as gains in tax receipts were offset by higher spending and growing debt service payments, the Treasury department said on Friday.

The budget forecasts $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years and assumes economic growth will continue at annual rate of roughly 3 percent for years to come, officials said.

Trump has taken credit for the strength of the U.S. economy thanks in part to tax cuts he championed and Congress passed earlier in his term. The budget funds an extension of those cuts over a 10-year period with $1.4 trillion.

Aid to Ukraine would remain at its 2020 levels under the new foreign aid proposal. Trump was acquitted last week of impeachment charges that he withheld aid to Ukraine to spur Kiev to investigate political rival Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. vice president.

Administration officials told Reuters that Trump would request an increase in funding for the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to $700 million from $150 million the previous year.