A 'nuclear option' for US aid funding?

    A nuclear weapons test in Nevada, United States in 1957. The U.S. Agency for International Development could get additional funding from budge intended for maintaining the country's arsenal of nuclear weapons. Photo by: U.S. Government

    One U.S. representative thinks he’s found an extra $5 billion for U.S. foreign aid programs — but the funds are currently locked up in the budget for maintaining the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons.

    “We are going to spend over the next decade approximately $700 billion on a nuclear arsenal that we’ve not used in 69 years,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said at a public-private partnerships event at the Woodrow Center on Friday.

    He added: “If we are able to have people do a deep dive, look at just that one area, we could reprogram conservatively a half trillion dollars.”

    “We’ll give you one percent,” Blumenauer told U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah.

    “America would be safer. The world would be better off, and we’d save the taxpayers a lot of money,” he argued.

    The U.S. government currently spends less than one percent of its budget on foreign aid, although most U.S. citizens believe the number to be significantly higher.

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    About the author

    • Michael Igoe

      Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.