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Wed Aug 14, 2019, 04:47 PM

U.S. officials shield Ivanka Trump's and Mike Pence's projects in review of foreign aid

The Trump administration has decided to shield the signature projects of White House adviser Ivanka Trump and Vice President Pence as it looks to cancel billions of dollars in foreign aid for other projects around the world, U.S. officials said.

In coming days, the White House is expected to send a proposal to Congress for returning billions of dollars of unspent foreign aid funds to the Treasury in a process known as rescission. Officials say they will safeguard funding for global health programs.

Because U.S. aid agencies often do not designate funds until the end of a fiscal year, the White House could claw back between $2 billion and $4 billion in foreign aid projects approved by Congress for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Senior Republicans and Democrats say the review threatens to undermine Congress’s authority to appropriate funds, but U.S. officials insist they are only targeting projects that are unnecessary or of questionable value.

The Office of Management and Budget is reviewing a vast array of programs but has already ruled out canceling funds for Ivanka Trump’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, Pence’s programs for Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in the Middle East, and global health programs amid an outbreak of Ebola in Congo.

Aid advocates criticized the move for attempting to protect the pet projects of the president’s inner circle.

“Our international affairs budget should go to the programs that save the most lives and go the furthest to make our planet safer — not just the ones with the Trump name on them,” said Scott Paul, the head of humanitarian policy at Oxfam America.

A senior U.S. official said it was appropriate for the White House to protect the programs it values most.

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