Washington (AP) President Donald Trump is planning to slash $500 billion from the Department of State, the State department’s top diplomat said Thursday.
The move will cut the State budget by almost half and put pressure on Trump to cut a smaller budget.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the State Dept. will continue to operate independently but the White House wants a larger budget.
The White House also wants to cut back on the number of U.S. diplomatic posts.
The State Department budget is the largest part of the Department’s budget.
Tillerson said there are currently only about 1,500 posts in the country, and he said the new cut would be a “significant reduction.”
“We’ve got a very small footprint in the United States, and we need to be a lot more efficient in what we’re doing,” Tillerson said.
“It’s not a perfect budget, and it’s not perfect timing.
But it’s a better budget for the U.N., the United Nations and our diplomats, our international partners and our international allies.”
Tillerson’s comments came during a roundtable discussion with State Department employees at the White Senate.
The panel was organized by the State and Foreign Relations Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The discussion was part of Tillerson’s first foreign trip as president and he was accompanied by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and senior adviser Dan Scavino.
Trump announced the plan on Twitter Thursday morning, saying he will eliminate a $100 million budget request for the State Departments Office of Inspector General and Office of the Inspector General for the Department.
Tillerson also said the cuts would “save $200 million in FY17 and 2018 and save an additional $200 billion over 10 years.”
The State department has been under heavy criticism in recent months for its handling of the deadly 2016 attacks on U.,S.
and U.K. diplomatic facilities in Libya and the U-S-Mexico border.
Last month, the House approved a $1.5 billion defense spending bill that included a $500.3 billion defense budget, which Tillerson called “not adequate.”
In an interview with ABC News, Tillerson defended his administration’s handling of security and economic issues in a bid to appease conservative lawmakers who have long complained about the administration’s foreign policy.
“We have to do our job, and if we have to, if we are going to get into a fight, we are not going to go into a war, but we will have to,” he said.
The president said he will continue a push for the creation of a permanent U.n. headquarters in New York City.