Attorney: Trump has power to defund ‘rogue nations’
Before last Thursday’s vote at the U.N. condemning the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Trump indicated that he was “taking names” of those who opposed the decision.
“Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” the president said. “This isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you – and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The vote wasn’t even close: while seven other countries joined the U.S. and Israel in support of the decision, 128 countries voted against the U.S. That represents billions of dollars in foreign aid from America.
Matt Barber of Christian Civil Rights Watch explains whoever sits in the Oval Office holds those purse strings.
“Congress is charged constitutionally with allocating funds,” Barber tells OneNewsNow. “However, it is the Executive Branch – the State Department, most particularly – which is charged with releasing those funds; diverting those funds, if you will.”
That said, according to Barber, President Trump is “absolutely within his authority” to withhold funds going to the U.N. that may be earmarked for various countries that are “going rogue.”
And in fact, he points out, there is precedent – compliments of Trump’s predecessor.
“Congress had never voted for $500 million to go to the U.N. Green Climate Fund,” says the constitutional attorney. “However the president at the time, Obama, took those funds and affirmatively directed them – to his pleasing – for his pet projects there at the U.N.”
So constitutionally, Trump can. The question then is: Will he? Barber weighs in on that possibility.
“This president has shown, if anything, that he is not afraid to push forward with his agenda and to swim upstream against the mainstream media and Democrats within the halls of Congress,” he suggests.
The U.S. is the largest contributor to the international body, paying about 25 percent of the regular budget. The U.S. says it negotiated the five-percent cut ($285 million) in the U.N.’s budget for 2018-2019 that was approved on Sunday. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley faulted the U.N. for “inefficiency and overspending” and said Washington won’t let “the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.”