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Before Trump’s State of the Union, a Look at How Last Year’s Promises Fared (The New York Times)

February 4, 2019

From the article:

In his first State of the Union address last year, President Trump outlined his vision for an “America first” approach to overhauling the immigration system, revitalizing manufacturing and prioritizing national interests abroad.

As Mr. Trump prepares to deliver his second address on Tuesday, which is also expected to highlight the president’s immigration agenda, here’s an assessment of his progress on the promises he made last year.

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Foreign policy

THE PROMISE: “That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.”

Status: Unfulfilled.

Congress ignored Mr. Trump’s calls to drastically reduce foreign aid, instead approving budgets that included billions more than the president had requested, and made no significant changes to foreign aid policy.

Sarah Rose, an analyst at the Center for Global Development, said the administration had been constrained by Congress — and its own “fundamental inconsistency” in funneling money to friends and allies while simultaneously giving aid to countries that might not otherwise receive it in order to counter China’s influence.

Mr. Trump has threatened to cut off aid to Central American countries over migrant caravans, and Nikki R. Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, had proposed making aid contingent on support for American-backed policies at the United Nations.

Yet the amount of assistance given to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador has been typical. And while the United States did end funding for Palestinian refugees in August, it did not follow through on withholding aid from countries that voted for a United Nations resolution condemning Mr. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, said Jeremy Konyndyk, a former director of the foreign disaster assistance program at the United States Agency for International Development.

“The issue is that he made a promise that was well beyond his ability to accomplish,” Mr. Konyndyk said. “The president is not a monarch and can’t just do things unilaterally.”

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