U.S. Congress passed a proposed spending bill that retains most of America’s aid programs in Africa, including the allocation of $1 billion to help address the current drought situation in many parts of Africa.
The bill, which has been widely described as a defeat for U.S. President Donald Trump, is a temporary measure to avert a government shutdown and allow lawmakers another week to reach an agreement on federal spending through the end of the current financial year, according to Fox Business.
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Although the majority of Republicans have disputed allegations that the bill bears little resemblance to Trump’s “America First” budget proposal, reports indicate that Congress ignored most of the President’s drastic budgetary cuts, including the proposed reduction of allocations to the U.S. State Department.
“I think we had a strategy and it worked. Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were closer to one another than Republicans were to Donald Trump,” the Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview with the Washington Post.
The spending bill also does not provide funds for Trump’s proposed construction of a border wall, although it includes funds for the repair of existing border structures.
Earlier this year, Mr. Trump shocked the entire world with his budget proposal for 2018, which proposed to cut funding for the U.S. State Department by 28.7 percent.
The proposal elicited mixed reactions, with the United Nations warning that the recommended cuts to the State Department, which facilitates foreign aid to Africa and other developing countries, would force the adoption of ad hoc measures that would undermine the effect of long-term reform efforts.
While the Democrats are happy to have won major concessions in the federal spending bill, Republicans have rejected the notion that it was a defeat for President Trump, arguing that the Democrats are the biggest losers since they wanted a government shutdown and didn’t get it.
“They were desperate to make this administration look like it couldn’t function,” the U.S. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House on Monday.
Pundits now say it will be very difficult – if not impossible – for the Republican party to exercise its will in future budget negotiations, especially for Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint, which contains his “America First” wish list.
The bill is now expected to go through the Senate before it is passed on to the President for assent later this week.