The Republican senator said on Tuesday that he himself would not support the plan for slashing State Department funding as the Trump administration is expected to propose and would work on a “bipartisan” basis to dismiss such a measure.
Asked if he thought the Senate could pass a budget that included a cut of a third of State Department funding, McConnell responded, "probably not.”
"I, for one, just speaking for myself, think the diplomatic portion of the federal budget" is a positive tool for US foreign policy, the 75-year-old senator said, adding that spending money on diplomacy is often cheaper and more effective than what "we do on the defense side."
In an interview with MSNBC, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (pictured below) also said Trump's proposal for cuts would be "dead on arrival" in Congress.
"It would be a disaster. If you take soft power off the table, then you're never going to win the war. What's most disturbing about the cut in the State Department's budget, it shows a lack of understanding of what it takes to win the war," he said.
The remarks are made as a White House budget official said a day earlier that the new US president plans to increase military spending by $54 billion and slash the same amount from non-military spending for the next fiscal year, beginning in October.
Earlier on Monday, over 120 retired US military officers, including admirals and generals, urged Trump not to slash State Department’s funding and spending. The ex-military officials called State Department funding “critical to keeping America safe.”
US military spending stands at approximately $600 billion annually. By contrast, the United States spends about $54 billion per year on its "International Affairs" budget, which includes the State Department and foreign assistance programs.