Top US Aid Recipients Could Face Cuts in Trump’s Proposed Funding Audit

By Patrick Goodenough | January 26, 2017 | 4:28am EST
The headquarters of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

( – President Trump’s proposed audits of U.S. international funding will reportedly call for a review of development aid to countries that “oppose important United States policies” – a plan that could prove uncomfortable for some of the biggest recipients of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Administration reports examining countries’ voting records at the United Nations, for example, show that most of the countries getting the most aid each year frequently oppose the U.S. position on important policy issues.

A draft executive order obtained by the New York Times calls for the setting up of a committee to recommend where funding cuts can be made, specifying among other things the question of U.S. assistance to countries that oppose important U.S. policies.

The report did not say whether the draft indicates how this will be quantified.

But the State Department has long been required to report to Congress annually on countries’ voting practices at the United Nations. The reports compare U.N. General Assembly votes of each member-state with those of the U.S. on a range of resolutions which the department determines to be of high priority.

(The 1990 law requiring the report describes those as “issues which directly affected United States interests and on which the United States lobbied extensively.”)

In the most recent annual report, released in mid-2016 and covering 2015, issues covered in the identified key votes included the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Cuba embargo, the Arms Trade Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, strengthening the U.N.’s role in promotion democracy, and human rights in North Korea, Iran and Syria.

The report found that, in 2015, the average voting coincidence with the U.S. in General Assembly votes was just 43.2 percent.

In some cases, countries’ voting decisions come as little surprise, since their governments are actively hostile to the United States.  Iran’s voting only coincided with that of the U.S. 20 percent of the time, for example, while the scores for both North Korea and Syria were 0 percent.

But when it comes to countries that are among the biggest beneficiaries of U.S. foreign aid, the picture is not a great deal better, with most voting the same way as the U.S. on those key resolutions only half, or less than half, of the time.

The top ten recipients of U.S. aid in FY 2015 were, in order: Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

The 2015 State Department report shows that Egypt’s votes coincided with the U.S. stance only 36.4 percent of the time. The equivalent figures for others were Tanzania (37.5 percent), Afghanistan (44.4 percent), Kenya (44.4 percent), Iraq (45.5 percent), Pakistan (45.5 percent), Nigeria (50 percent) and Ethiopia (50 percent).

Jordan’s voting on the important resolutions coincided with that of the U.S. a little more than half of the time (54.5 percent), while Israel’s voting coincided with that of the U.S. 100 percent of the time.

The previous year’s State Department report showed a similar pattern.

The top ten recipients of U.S. aid in FY 2014 were largely the same as the following year, the only difference being that Uganda replaced Ethiopia, and the order was shuffled somewhat: Israel, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Iraq, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

In 2014, those top ten aid recipients’ votes on important General Assembly resolutions coincided with those of the U.S. as follows: Pakistan (12.5 percent), Iraq (36.4 percent), Afghanistan (41.7 percent), Tanzania (44.4 percent), Jordan (45.5 percent), Nigeria (50 percent), Uganda (50 percent), Kenya (66.7 percent) and Israel (100 percent).

Going back to the last year of the Bush administration, the picture was even worse.

In the 2008 report, the voting coincidence scores for the FY 2009 top ten aid recipients were as follows:  Jordan (0 percent), Ethiopia (0 percent), Kenya (0 percent), Egypt (7.7 percent), Pakistan (9.1 percent), Nigeria (12.5 percent), Afghanistan (23.1 percent), Iraq (30 percent), Mexico (40 percent) and Israel (91.7 percent).

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