In the waning days of his administration, US President Donald Trump is once again trying to freeze US foreign assistance.
The Office of Management and Budget notified agencies involved in US foreign assistance that a spending review was underway although no specifics have been provided and no formal notification to Congress was made.
This latest effort was not a complete surprise. In comments prior to signing the omnibus appropriations and supplemental COVID-19 bill on December 27, 2020, Trump specifically criticized funding for US foreign assistance. His previous efforts both to cut foreign assistance and to implement rescissions of already-approved funding, however, have been rejected by Congress.
Trump does not have the power to make the cuts, but he can temporarily freeze any spending. Normally, under the Impoundment Control Act, Congress must approve the cuts within 45 days of notification; if no action is taken the funds must be expended as originally passed. The effect of this current effort is that funds will effectively be frozen until January 20, 2021, when US President-elect Joe Biden will assume the presidency.