The United States has a moral responsibility to help in other countries, two senators who are a sponsoring a bipartisan bill to help taxpayer dollars go further to deliver food aid to the world, said Tuesday.
Sens. Bob Corker, R- Tennessee, and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, appeared together on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program after returning from a trip to Uganda to highlight their opposition to budget cuts to a foreign aid program that they do not believe needs cut.
"It was 274,000 people in a refugee camp," Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the program. "It's something I wish every American could experience firsthand, just to see what good the United States of America does ... by the way, with one percent of our budget, all diplomatic and aid efforts, one percent of the budget."
President Donald Trump's proposed budget would cut 28 percent of the budget for foreign aid and diplomacy, putting pressure on all nearly all foreign aid, U.S. officials say.
Currently, commodities are sent overseas on U.S.-flagged ships, and have difficulty reaching where they are needed, said Corker.
"More importantly, it is costing us 40 percent more than if we could just buy it in the region," said Corker. "So, we'd like to use U.S. dollars much more efficiently and feed 5 million to 8 million more people with the same dollars."
Coons, also on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, commented that to look in the eyes of refugees "is a very powerful experience," particularly as the trip took place on Good Friday.
"One of the reasons we continue to feed the world is because it's the right thing to do," said Coons. "The more important thing, it keeps us safer by preventing fragile states."
The senators also discussed Russia during the program, with Corker commenting that Russia is working against the United States' interest in both Libya and Syria, following reports that the Russians may be arming the Taliban.
"This is just the standard way that Russia has operated for years," said Corker. "They're working against our interests in Europe, working against our interests in Crimea, Ukraine. I think we've all done a great job of poisoning the well so no cheap deal is going to be done with Russia. I have to say that I think this administration has evolved and grown a great deal in their understanding of what Russia really is up to."
Coons said he agrees with Corker that under Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia is an "aggressor and adversary" and Putin will stop "when we stop him."
"I think the senate foreign relations committee under the leadership of Sens. Corker and Ben Cardin have put together strong bipartisan legislation," said Coons. "Facing our security like Iran's destabilizing actions in the Middle East. I think you'll see a number of bills come through our committee."
Corker also commented on the upcoming meeting involving all 100 senators with Trump at the White House, saying he does not think they will hear much more about North Korea than is heard in the open press.
"Look, at the end of the day this young leader believes that if he develops a deliverable nuclear weapon to the United States, he will die as an old man in his bed," said Corker. "It's very different than the outcome of [Muammar] Gadhafi in Libya, who gave up weapons of mass destruction. At the end of the day, obviously, China is the key. It's almost trite to say that. Everyone understands that."
But without regime change, he said, North Korean President Kim Jong-un will push for nuclear weapons because "he thinks that's his ticket to life."
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