Trump’s budget proposal sparks debate from both parties

Debate is heating up over President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

While Trump presented his security-focused realignment of federal spending March 16, congress is unlikely to pass it exactly as Trump wants it – instead sending it through House and Senate budget committees where negotiations and adjustments are made.

The Trump Administration has asked Congress for a $54 billion or 10 percent increase in the Department of Defense, a $2.8 billion or 6.8 percent in Homeland Security, a $4.4 billion or 6 percent increase in the Department of Veterans Affairs and a 0.2 percent (dollar amount not give in budget) increase in the Social Security Administration.  

In order to offset these increases, in order not to add to the $488 trillion national deficit, Trump’s budget proposes cuts to more than 15 different agencies, including a $2.6 billion, or 31 percent decrease from the Environmental Protection Agency, a $10.9 billion or 28 percent decrease from the Department of State and USAID, and a a $2.5 billion or 21 percent decrease from the Department of Labor.

Despite the large cuts in spending to these departments, Trump’s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in a press conference their “core functions” would be protected.

“We think there’s tremendous opportunity for savings,” Mulvaney said. “We recommend, for example, that a couple of facilities be combined; there would be cost savings from that.”  

The president’s budget also calls for $2.6 billion for “high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology, including funding to plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border,” along with $4.6 billion in the Department of Homeland Security budget for “programs to strengthen the security of the Nation’s borders and enhance the integrity of its immigration system.”

Trump also has asked for Congress to approve $1.5 billion on the wall in the current fiscal year, said Trump’s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney in a press conference. This would set aside money to fund preliminary projects on how they should go about constructing it. According to Mulvaney, the $2.6 billion down payment would come in the fiscal year 2018.

This changing of spending priorities, however, have not gone over well with some Congressmen. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has been critical of the president over the past year dating back to the campaign trail, criticized the increases in defense spending.

“I appreciate that this budget increases defense spending, yet these increases in defense come at the expense of national security, soft power, and other priorities,” said Graham in a statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and President Trump to create a budget that is fiscally responsible, makes our country safer, and preserves wise investments in our future.”

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is leading Democrats in the Senate to oppose Trump’s budget; voicing his displeasure both in a series of tweets and a series of statements in which he outlines all the ways Trump’s budget would affect New York specifically.

“Cuts like the ones proposed by the Trump budget would not only weaken the security apparatus of this city, but they could turn a weak link into something far more serious,” said Schumer in one of those statements. “Federal security funds, like UASI, are the cornerstone of effective preparedness and prevention against terror threats and enable the NYPD to do all they can to keep New Yorkers safe and secure. In fact, with the continued requirements of the NYPD to protect Trump Tower, federal funds to New York City should be increased, not decreased.”

While drawing criticism from congress, the White House stood by the president’s proposed budget saying it showed Trump was making good on his election promises.

“The president said, specifically, hundreds of times… ‘I’m going to spend less money overseas and more money on people back home’ and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this budget,” said Mulvaney in a press conference.

Mulvaney also acknowledged that some of the proposed cuts would be “very unpopular” on the Hill but that unlike Congress, Trump wasn’t writing a bill to help special interest.

“He did not ask lobbyists for input on this, he did not ask special interests for input on this, and he certainly didn’t focus on how these programs might impact a specific congressional district,” Mulvaney said. “The President has drafted a budget for the entire nation because that’s who he sees himself as representing.”

The budget outline did not include the president’s infrastructure plan, which the White House has said is still to come.  The plan is likely to incorporate $1 trillion in investments towards construction and reconstruction of roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure projects throughout the country.
Trump’s budget is now headed for Congressional negotiations where it will likely undergo changes. Be sure to keep checking back with PolitiFrog for updates on the budget process.