President Trump’s proposed budget plan would maintain current U.S. foreign aid to Israel, while assistance to other countries is being evaluated, the State Department said Friday.
“Our assistance to Israel is, if I could say, a cutout on the budget, and that’s guaranteed, and that reflects, obviously, our strong commitment to one of our strongest partners and allies,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
“With respect to other assistance levels, foreign military assistance levels, those are still being evaluated and decisions are going to be made going forward,” he added.
Toner said the U.S. would have to keep its treaty obligations in mind in its decision-making, though made no guarantee that the U.S. would continue providing assistance to countries, including Egypt, one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid in the region.
“We’re still at the very beginning of the budget process, and in the coming months these are all going to be figures that we evaluate and look at hard, obviously bearing in mind … our treaty obligations going forward.”
Toner’s comments follow Trump’s unveiling of his first budget proposal, which calls for a massive increase in defense and security-related spending, while slashing the budgets of most other government agencies.
The State Department is among those that would have major cuts under the Trump proposal, with the blueprint calling for a 28 percent cut to the State Department’s budget, along with cuts to foreign aid.
The call the slash foreign aid falls in line with Trump’s campaign-trail rhetoric, in which blasted U.S. international assistance programs and called for an “America first” foreign policy.
The budget was released as guidance for Congress, though lawmakers typically craft their own budgets and members of both parties have already announced their opposition to key parts of Trump’s budget proposal.