Trump to Iran: No Deal

Trump to Iran: No Deal

May 08, 2018

"The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into." That was President Trump's frank assessment of what may have been Barack Obama's biggest foreign policy mistake. Today, the White House did something about it -- finally pulling the United States out of the deal that's been a disaster for U.S. and global security.

Starting today, America will be on a 90-day track to re-impose sanctions on a regime that continues to fund terrorist activities and secretly pursue a nuclear program. It also goes a long way to dismantling another one of the Left's proudest accomplishments: cozying up to a nation that has neither the interest nor the intention of operating on the world's terms.

Unfortunately, some of the damage has already been done. Obama's failure gave the Iranians a windfall of cash and access to the international financial system for trade and investment. Until President Hassan Rouhani agrees to several conditions -- including ending its public quest to destroy Israel and its alliance with terrorists -- this White House isn't giving Iran an inch.

In a press conference announcing the administration's decision, President Trump wanted the world to know: "The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises I keep them. Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States."

FRC's Lt. General Jerry Boykin wasn't surprised that President Trump was withdrawing from the deal, since he campaigned on it. And if there's one thing this president does, it's keep his word. "It's disgraceful that the U.S. lead the effort to get the Iran deal in the first place," he said, "and now it's just as significant that the U.S. is leading the movement to abandon what this very bad agreement." It also sets an important tone heading into talks with North Korea. President Trump couldn't meet with Kim Jung Un and expect any sort of real progress if America was still a part of this deal. "It would be contradictory and counterproductive to do so," General Boykin insists.

We're grateful for the administration's courage in righting the wrongs of the last administration. It's a relief to have bold leaders who are willing to stand up for America's best interest -- even if it means standing alone.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Return to Spender, Address Known...

May 08, 2018

Someone once said that giving money to the government is like giving car keys to teenage boys. The only difference is, teenagers usually know when to use the brakes. Republicans have tried to cut some of Washington's spending -- but you don't have to be the White House budget director to know that pumping millions of dollars into things like "Doggie Hamlet" and climate change paint camps is feeding our $21 trillion debt. People who want to trim down have to start by looking in the mirror. And the same goes for the federal government.

Congress didn't have the stomach to do it in the omnibus bill, but thank goodness President Trump does. This morning, the White House bundled $15 billion in rescission cuts and sent them straight to the House and Senate. Thanks to the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, presidents can permanently cancel funding to executive agencies -- if it's within a 45-day window, and if a simple majority of Congress approves. Not surprisingly, it's a weapon Barack Obama never used. Trump's proposal -- which is actually $4 billion more than he'd originally planned -- is the first time a president has used the process since Bill Clinton. And according to one senior official, this is "the largest single rescissions request at one time."

The beauty of the rescission process is that Congress can fast-track it. Unlike normal spending bills, this proposal can bypass the 60-vote majority in the Senate. Using his own budget request as a guide, the president zeroed in on a number of unnecessary -- and in some cases, obsolete – programs to slash. Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Russell Vought highlighted the misuses of funds targeted by the president in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal Monday. Amazingly, a lot of line-items seemed to be funded on auto-pilot without anyone checking to see if they were still operational.

The Energy Department's loan program for Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing hasn't actually made a loan since 2011. By acting on the administration's proposal, Congress can now rescind more than $4.3 billion that has been idle for seven years.

The Trump administration's request would save $148 million in Agriculture Department funds intended for animal and plant disease outbreaks that have already been resolved. It would save $252 million at the U.S. Agency for International Development that was appropriated in fiscal 2015 for the Ebola response, which has largely concluded. Another proposal would save $47 million at the Federal Transit Administration from an account that has stagnated for 13 years. Yet another would reclaim taxpayer dollars from a Railroad Retirement Board program that ended in 2012.

Even Democrats recognize the need to spend more consciously. "I wouldn't irrationally oppose a rescission which said we've had money laying in an account that has not been spent in one, two, three years," agreed Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). For a party that's irrationally opposed a lot of things, let's hope this time is different. The U.S. is hitting record spending levels -- and still, Washington comes back to taxpayers demanding more. Well, it's now time for taxpayers to demand more -- from their leaders in the way of fiscal responsibility.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

'The Worst Humanitarian Crisis No One's Talking about'

May 08, 2018

It's easy for Americans to take our quality of life for granted. We go about our days in a relative ease -- living comfortably, while a half a world away, entire populations wonder if they'll live to see the sunrise. To them, a bad day isn't a long commute or limited Wi-Fi -- it's grabbing their children's hands and running from the soldiers who are burning their village to the ground. It's seeing young girls snatched up by traffickers and slaveholders while their parents scream. Or, like the near-million Rohingya packed into flimsy bamboo refugee huts, making it to safety -- only to watch mudslides carry their shelters, and more families, away.

In Myanmar (Burma), this is the real-life nightmare of the Rohingya, a population of non-violent Muslims who've been described as the "world's most persecuted minority." For the last two years, thousands of them have been slaughtered in one of the greatest humanitarian crises no one is talking about. To some of us, the idea of persecution and torture seems far-off and unreal. In a nation so fortunate -- and shielded almost to the point of complacency -- it's hard to wrap our minds around that kind of evil and suffering. But for the Rohingya, the West's ignorance is literally killing them.

The lucky ones have made it to refugee camps in Bangladesh, only to face the reality that monsoons could wipe out their water, food, and medical supplies. Relief agencies are desperately trying to access the camps, where makeshift bamboo huts can't possibly survive the deluge. More than 100,000 people are at risk of mudslides and flooding -- which is better than what they would face at home, where entire communities are set on fire and whole villages murdered in a vicious campaign of "ethnic cleansing."

Worse, tens of thousands of mothers are going into labor as the rains start -- the result of brutal rapes that took place during the Burmese crackdown. Ayesha Akhtar's story is like a lot of women's, even girls'. "Everyone knew the soldiers commit rape when they raid villages," she said. But nothing prepared her for the day when armed Burmese men burst into her home, threatened to kill her children, ripped her clothes off and assaulted her. She's never recovered.

"The UN's special envoy on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, has concluded the Myanmar army use rape as a weapon of genocide. '[It is] a calculated tool of terror aimed at the extermination and removal of the Rohingya as a group," she says. Women of all ages were gang-raped, publicly raped, even taken away and brutalized for days at a time. Relief workers at the border were horrified by the stories. "In January, so many women were showing up at... hospitals, bleeding, that midwives speculated many were probably trying to abort their pregnancies at home."

Jo Stevens, writing about the area, says the situation of the million people along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border is desperate.

I have been to the refugee camps... I met refugees who have fled unspeakable levels of violence and systematic abuse... These people now face a second tragedy as the monsoon season hits and threatens to wipe out even more lives... Basic services are also in danger; 32 percent of health facilities could be lost, and a quarter of the nutrition centers are threatened, putting the lives of the 60,000 women reported to be pregnant -- many of them as a result of rape -- and their babies at risk of malnutrition...

The United States has been actively engaged in the region, including a trip to Bangladesh by Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback. During his April visit to the camps, he was astounded, calling the brutality the worst he'd ever seen. "The intensity of the violence here, the thoroughness, is breathtaking," he said. "There's a high level of interest in the administration over this," he promised, explaining that the U.S. is putting tremendous pressure on Myanmar to stop targeting these civilians because of their faith.

In his new role, Ambassador Brownback surprised a lot of his critics (many who insisted he was anti-Muslim) by making the Rohingya one of his top priorities. Even Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who opposed his nomination, admitted that "[A]nything that can bring the plight of the Muslims in Burma to public attention is worthwhile." On that, we agree. Christians have always believed that every person should have the ability to choose their faith and live it out free from government discrimination.

If you're wondering what you can do to help, visit our friends at Open Doors USA for specific prayer points for the Rohingya. Or, contribute to the work of amazing organizations like Samaritan's Purse, who are on the ground right now serving them.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Previous Washington Update Articles »