/Richard Grenell and Rand Paul team up to slash spending

Richard Grenell and Rand Paul team up to slash spending

Richard Grenell

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is requesting a zero dollar increase in spending at the U.S. Embassy in Germany. | Daniel Bockwoldt/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell are teaming up to halt embassy spending overseas in what they see as a model for reining in the State Department’s budget.

Grenell and his staff are requesting a zero dollar increase in spending at the U.S. Embassy in Germany, which officials say is a rare if not unheard-of diplomatic move. Generally, each embassy asks for whatever it can think of in annual funding requests to justify future spending. “You ask for anything,” said one senior diplomatic staffer.

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But Grenell told reporters that he’s refusing to do that — which has U.S. embassy staffers in Germany bracing for a backlash from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and career State Department officials who fear future curtailed spending. Grenell also said his embassy returned nearly $8 million of its $132 million allotment in the most recent budget.

“President Trump and Secretary [Mike] Pompeo expect us to be frugal and efficient with American taxpayer dollars,” Grenell said. “When I was asked to think about future growth, I felt strongly that this was an opportunity to take a stand and implement exactly what the president and the secretary of State think we should be doing.”

Grenell, a former aide to now-National Security Adviser John Bolton, is a favorite of the right and has frequently outraged his German hosts. Still, he appears to be succeeding in implementing Trump’s agenda abroad.

Republicans have opened up a massive budget hole while controlling the government, running more than $1 trillion in deficits in the current fiscal year after increasing spending and cutting taxes. Paul supported the GOP’s deficit-boosting tax law but generally votes against spending bills and praised Grenell for doing his small part in trying to cut spending.

“It’s extraordinary when we get people who say, you know what, we’re doing fine” with our current budget, the Kentucky Republican told reporters of Grenell. “This is a good example of somebody from a pretty prominent embassy, from a pretty large embassy in Europe, saying I can do my job with the same amount of money.”

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