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Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Tillerson: State Department spending levels 'unsustainable'

Tillerson: State Department spending levels 'unsustainable'

Journalists at major outlets first began to panic when news broke last week that Tillerson did not plan to take any of the press with him on his trip to Japan, South Korea, and China.

The combined budget for the State Department and USAID would be $25.6 billion under Trump's proposal.

The State Department Correspondents Association said it was "disappointed" by the change in procedure.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pushed back against the White House, so the State Department's funding - which was expected to be slashed by 37 percent under the upcoming budget - will not be cut as deeply, according to Politico.

This excuse rang hollow to members of the press corps.

It is not yet clear, however whether Trump and Tillerson have significant policy differences or if he can defend his department against some of Trump's closest aides such as Steve Bannon who want to dismantle parts of the federal government and limit USA engagement with the world, said three of the current and former officials.

He has not held a single news conference and never answers questions that reporters shout out when he is posing for photo ops with foreign counterparts.

The reporter, Erin McPike, accepted an offer to fly with Tillerson after discussion with her editors at IJR, which acknowledged the "controversy surrounding press access for the trip", founder Alex Skatell said in a statement.

The decision stirred complaints because it broke with decades of tradition and may impede news coverage of Tillerson's foreign policy moves.

Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a phone briefing with reporters on Tuesday that the agency was considering "having a seat available" on his plane.

"He is making a very sensible calculation", said a former USA official, noting that Congress, not the president, holds the purse strings.

She wrote a story two weeks ago about Tillerson's strategy to "keep his head down while he sets out to make the State Department more efficient". Reuters also notes that McPike does not appear to be filing the pool reports that reporters traveling with the secretary typically file to inform colleagues about his activities.

He has drawn criticism from many State Department officials who believe he has failed to cultivate potential allies in Trump's cabinet and on Capitol Hill.

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