Pompeo defends Trump budget; says 23 percent cut won’t hurt State Department’s ‘swagger’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that $13 billion in proposed budget cuts for his agency won’t hurt America’s “swagger” abroad.

The Trump administration’s budget plan, released Monday, would slash the budget for the State Department and international programs by more than 23 percent, from $55.8 billion to a proposed $42.8 billion.

In an interview Monday with McClatchy’s Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, Pompeo said he was deeply involved in preparing the budget and would support it before Congress.

“I’ll testify on Capitol Hill in a week or two on our budget and I’m very confident that the State Department will have the resources it needs,” Pompeo said. “It always has. President Trump has ensured that it has. And we’ll get to where we’ll need to be.”

The people who work at the State department “understand what’s going on,” Pompeo said.

“What they needed wasn’t more money,” he said. “What they needed was a leader who was prepared to empower them, was prepared to let them go out and do their job.”

Trump’s proposed cut is consistent with past reductions he has pursued. In the first year of his presidency, under Pompeo’s predecessor, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he asked Congress for a 30 percent reduction. GOP lawmakers described the proposal at the time as reckless.

When he became Secretary of State last year, Pompeo pledged to help the agency “get its swagger back.” Asked on Monday how that would be possible in the face of such deep cuts, Pompeo was unfazed.

“When I talked about swagger it was about going out in the world and having the confidence that as an American diplomat you represent the greatest nation in the history of civilization,” he said.

“That’s what the people of the State Department want. We’re giving it to them in spades. They’re responding to it wonderfully. We’re doing wonderful work all around the world.”

Lindsay Wise is an investigative reporter for McClatchy’s Washington Bureau. Previously, Lindsay worked for six years as the Washington correspondent for McClatchy’s Kansas City Star. Before joining McClatchy in 2012, she worked as a reporter at the Houston Chronicle, where she specialized in coverage of veterans and military issues as well as the city’s Arab and Muslim communities.
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Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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