We’ve heard Trump threaten this before and now the State Department is announcing he’s doing it:
JUST IN: The Trump administration will announce plans to permanently withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, sources say pic.twitter.com/MRVEeAZgnb
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) June 17, 2019
Here’s more from Reuters:
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, after Trump blasted the three countries because thousands of their citizens had sought asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico.
The plan will likely encounter stiff opposition in Congress.
Lawmakers, including some of Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, have chafed against the president’s repeated decisions to disregard spending bills passed by Congress, some of which he has signed into law himself.
Trump has made reducing illegal immigration one of his signature policy pledges, both during his presidential campaign and 2-1/2 years in the White House.
Congressional aides said the administration told them it would reallocate $370 million in aid to Central America that lawmakers had approved for fiscal 2018, and suspend an additional $180 million Congress had approved for fiscal 2017.
All of the money for those years has not yet been spent.
The administration said in March it would cut aid to the three countries after Trump expressed unhappiness with the their immigration policies.
No funds will be provided until the administration is satisfied the countries are reducing the number of migrants reaching the U.S. border, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters.
“This is consistent with the president’s direction and with the recognition that it is critical that there be sufficient political will in these countries to address the problem at its source,” she said.
Without elaborating, she added: “Working with Congress, we will reprogram those funds to other priorities as appropriate.”
Trump is trying to use any leverage he can to try and stop these migrants from flooding the border. Withholding funds until they begin putting an end to this I think is reasonable.
Reallocating or reprogramming these funds is a different story, but I’m guessing that authority may fall under national emergency he declared.
The big picture is that Congress needs to work with the Trump administration to help solve this crisis. In reality, there’s only so much he can do as president, long term, and it sounds like he’s trying to pull every string he can to unravel this emergency.