U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, was quoted in media reports as saying:

"You don’t hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative. Period.”

I'm curious if that's accurate. Is there a source to keep track of what aid the US gives out, to whom, and for what reasons?

Also it would be good to know, in a face saving way, how honorable each side has been in that agreement. Perhaps a summary or a treemap graph. It would be especially interesting to see what categories and labels would exist on that chart.

  • Are you asking about foreign aid from the US, or all foreign aid from all countries?
    – divibisan
    Oct 18, 2019 at 18:04
  • @divibisan I was thinking about the US in particular, but some treemap concepts could allow for a zoom in. I wonder if the axis labels would be different globally vs a country specific view, or now we talk about it, or if the labels differ among countries or regions. Oct 18, 2019 at 18:16
  • Worldwide would likely be too broad to answer. Asking about how we can keep track of US foreign aid sounds like a reasonable question
    – divibisan
    Oct 18, 2019 at 18:18
  • Hans Morgenthau published one in Politics among Nations, conceptually, from a point of theory
    – user9790
    Oct 19, 2019 at 10:48

1 Answer 1


To be clear about a potential premise behind your question: Congress holds the purse strings. If Congress decides that the US spends X on Y, then X gets spent on Y -- no ifs or buts.

And to put this in the context of the impeachment inquiry, which is what your question seems to be about: the recipient of Y cannot be told by the White House that they'll only get money if Z. The White House does not control the purse strings. Congress does. The White House's job is to act in accordance with what Congress decides -- give or take some leeway, which does not include withholding funds on a whim.

With respect to your question specifically, you can see an itemized list of what is being spent abroad in the US budget -- the details which you can find on fiscal.treasury.gov.

The justifications behind each item are a matter of debate.

  • Unfortunately, the Emergency Powers Act, the Military budgets, and the slush funds in the ACA give wide discretion to the president in being adventuresome in foreign aid. Obama famously used taxpayer money to interfere in Isreali elections in one example.
    – user9790
    Oct 19, 2019 at 10:54
  • But you rightly describe how it should be in principle, if Congress acted to jealously to guard its power.
    – user9790
    Oct 19, 2019 at 10:58

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