Leahy Recommends Spending Cuts For Afghanistan, Iraq

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Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy wants the United States to cut spending on programs that he says aren’t working in Aghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

As chairman of an appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid, Leahy has a great deal of control over federal purse strings. And he said US taxpayers shouldn’t waste money on programs that he says have failed. He offered this example:

"We’re spending a huge amount of money to train police departments in Iraq," he said. "Well, we’re never going to be able to train them. It’s not working. But at the same time, we’re cutting money from police departments in the United States. I think we have to start looking at our priorities."

The subcommittee Leahy chairs has recommended spending levels significantly below what President Obama recommended for the war-torn countries of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Overall, the committee’s annual budget bill would cut about $2.6 billion from the president’s budget request.

"There seems to be this idea and it began long before President Obama got here that if we spend enough money everything works out," he said. "Well everything doesn’t work out by spending it. We don’t have an unlimited amount of money. We have a lot of needs in the United States and if we’re going to spend money abroad let’s do it on things that protect our security and reflect on the humanitarian nature of the American people."

Leahy said the proposed cuts will not affect national security or the safety of US troops. "Of course, the thing to affect the security of the troops the most is to bring them home," he said.

The cuts are targeted at the State Department and other civilian aid programs, including a new embassy planned for Kandahar, Afghanistan. Leahy has been critical of State Department spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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