March 18, 2017 at 12:26 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Trump budget slashes State Department, USAID funding

President Donald Trump‘s budget blueprint slashes the budgets of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The budget blueprint that President Trump released on Thursday would cut the budgets of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by 28 percent.

The proposed budget requests a total of $37.6 billion for the State Department and USAID.

It seeks $25.6 billion in base funding for the two agencies, which is $10.1 billion less than they received in fiscal year 2017. The proposed budget also requests an additional $12 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations funding for “extraordinary costs” associated with wars in countries that include Afghanistan and Iraq.

Trump writes in the blueprint’s introduction that the $54 billion in proposed cuts in non-defense spending “includes deep cuts to foreign aid.” The proposed budget does not specifically say whether the White House plans to cut or eliminate funding of State Department or USAID initiatives or programs that promote LGBT and intersex rights abroad.

“It is time to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share,” says Trump in the blueprint’s introduction.

The proposed budget “provides sufficient resources to maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment under” the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. It also “meets U.S. commitments” to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The proposed budget would reduce funding for the State Department’s Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs and redirect it to “sustaining the flagship” Fulbright Program. It also calls for a $650 million reduction in funding to the World Bank and other international development banks over three years.

“Our aim is to meet the simple, but crucial demand of our citizens — a government that puts the needs of its own people first,” says Trump. “When we do that, we will set free the dreams of every American, and we will begin a new chapter of American greatness.”

Official provides no additional details on Trump budget

The promotion of LGBT and intersex rights abroad was a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy during President Obama’s second term. Activists in the U.S. and around the world remain concerned that the Trump administration will no longer support these efforts.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in January raised eyebrows during his confirmation hearing when he declined to specifically say whether “gay rights are human rights.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the Council for Global Equality, Human Rights First and OutRight Action International this week sharply criticized the State Department for appointing two anti-LGBT activists to the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women meeting. Tillerson earlier this month did not publicly speak about the State Department’s annual human rights report when it was released.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Randy Berry remains in his position as special U.S. envoy to promote LGBT and intersex rights abroad.

“We do not have additional details to share at this time,” a U.S. official told the Washington Blade on Friday, referring to Trump’s proposed budget. “More details will be available when the full budget is rolled out later this spring.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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