By: Kevin J. Kelley
President Donald Trump’s proposed US spending plan generally spares Kenya from the deep cuts the White House is seeking in the overall foreign assistance budget.
The State Department would have its budget slashed by 32 per cent under the Trump plan released on Tuesday. Assistance to Kenya would be reduced by no more than 10 per cent — and probably less than that.
Moreover, there is virtually no chance that Congress will approve the full magnitude of the cuts Mr Trump is requesting in US aid to developing countries.
Most of Trump’s proposed funding reduction for Kenya — from $711 million (Sh73 billion) last year to $639 (Sh64 billion) million in the coming year — reflects his call to eliminate the Food for Peace Programme administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAid). Kenya received $53 million in Food for Peace assistance last year.
Despite the White House’s proposal to leave funding for Kenya largely intact, the country would experience fallout from spending reductions Mr. Trump aims to achieve in several international aid initiatives.
The president is calling for elimination of the African Development Foundation that uses $1.4 million of its $30 million total budget to promote food security and agriculture in Turkana County.
Mr Trump also wants to scrap other US government entities that seek to facilitate investment in and trade with developing countries, including Kenya.
US funding for a range of United Nations programmes, such as efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change in Africa, would likewise be ended or sharply reduced if Congress were to rubber-stamp the budget plan Mr. Trump is submitting.
That outcome is unlikely, however.
The Republican-controlled Congress earlier this month refused to accept in the current fiscal year many of the same foreign-aid cuts the president now wants to impose in the 2018 fiscal year that begins in October.
The 32 per cent USAid and State Department cut Mr Trump is again urging will almost certainly not be approved by Congress.
Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of a panel that formulates budgets for US overseas aid programmes, warned on Tuesday that the extreme scale-back sought by Mr Trump “means you really have to withdraw from the world because your presence is compromised.”
“That may be the goal of this budget,” Senator Graham said in regard to the plan offered by Mr Trump. “It’s not my goal.”