In Summary
  • The California congresswoman was particularly scornful of the Trump administration's proposal to eliminate all funding for family-planning programmes in Africa.
  • Democratic Congressman Amerish Babulal Bera took issue with the 'America First' approach that underlies President Trump's budget making.

Two State Department officials were thrown on the defensive as members of the US Congress denounced the Trump administration's proposed funding cuts for programmes in Africa.

The Republican chairman of a US House subcommittee on Africa joined his Democratic colleagues in criticising Mr Trump's intention to sharply reduce food aid and to scale back other initiatives benefiting sub-Saharan countries, including Kenya.

Donald Yamamoto, acting assistant secretary of state for Africa, and Cheryl L. Anderson, an acting administrator for Africa at the US Agency for International Development, told lawmakers at a subcommittee hearing that the austere Trump budget was a product of “trade-offs” and “tough choices.”

DEFEND BUDGET

“I know you have to support this budget, and it must be very painful because it's just filled with contradictions,” Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass told Mr Yamamoto and Ms Anderson.

“This budget does not reflect your illustrious careers, and I'm sorry you have to be put in a position to defend it,” Ms Bass added.

The California congresswoman was particularly scornful of the Trump administration's proposal to eliminate all funding for family-planning programmes in Africa.

Such a move will lead to an increase in abortions, Ms Bass predicted, noting that the Trump team strongly opposes abortion. The congresswoman also warned that limiting access to contraception will heighten maternal death rates, which, she said, are partly a product of women's inability to space the intervals between pregnancies.

“What's the reason for that?” Ms Bass asked the officials in regard to the proposed elimination of family planning funding. “What's the logic?”

“Policy decision,” Ms Anderson of USAid replied.

SECURITY

Earlier in the hearing, Mr Yamamoto and Ms Anderson had sought to justify President Trump's Africa-related budget cuts as efforts to enhance the cost-effectiveness of US programmes on the continent. Two officials also insisted that the proposed budget will not imperil peace-making and security in conflict-stricken African countries.

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