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WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham flatly rejected on Tuesday President Donald Trump's request to slash the budget for the U.S. State Department by more than 23 percent.
That proposal "ain't happening," Graham, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the State Department, declared at the opening of the hearing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Senator Patrick Leahy, the top subcommittee Democrat, said the administration has proposed "damaging funding cuts, with little to no logical explanation."
The Trump administration requested about $40 billion to fund the State Department and its aid arm, the United States Agency for International Development, for the fiscal year starting in October.
Pompeo noted the hearing comes days before his first anniversary as Trump's second secretary of state. Graham joked that Pompeo was the longest-serving member of Trump's cabinet, referring to the high turnover of senior-level staff at the White House.
Pompeo smiled but did not reply.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stepped down this week in the latest high-profile resignation, and Trump said on Monday he would replace the head of the U.S. Secret Service.
Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives have also said they will reject the proposed cuts to the budget, setting the stage for a budget battle with the White House. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Lesley Wroughton in Washington Editing by James Dalgleish)
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