By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will ask the United States Congress for drastic cuts in many federal programs as he seeks to increase defense spending, start building a wall on the border with Mexico and spend more money deporting illegal immigrants.
In a federal budget proposal with many losers, the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department stand out as targets for the biggest spending cuts. Funding would disappear entirely for 19 independent bodies that count on federal money for public broadcasting, arts and regional affairs from Alaska to Appalachia.
Trump’s budget outline is a basic plan that covers only “discretionary” spending for fiscal year 2018 beginning October 1. It is the first volley of what is expected to be an intense battle for spending in the coming months in Congress, which remains the federal purse rarely approves the budget plans of presidents.
Congress, controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, may reject some or many of his proposed cuts. Some of the proposed changes, which Democrats will widely oppose, have been the target of conservative Republicans for decades.
To view a graph on Trump’s budget winners and losers, click http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/USA-TRUMP-BUDGET/0100405W0DC/
Moderate Republicans have already voiced their displeasure over possible cuts to popular household programs, such as subsidies for home heating, clean water projects and job training.
Trump is willing to discuss priorities, said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman who made a name for himself as a spending hawk before Trump elected him to his cabinet.
“The president wants to spend more money on defense, more money to secure the border, more money to enforce the laws and more money on the choice of schools, without increasing the deficit,” Mulvaney told a small group of journalists during a hearing. preview on Wednesday.
“If they have a different way of doing that, we are more than interested in talking to them,” Mulvaney said.
Trump wants to spend an additional $ 54 billion on defense, make a down payment on his border wall and bring some other campaign promises to life. Its initial budget scheme does not incorporate its promise to invest $ 1 trillion in roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure projects. The White House has said the infrastructure plan is yet to come.
Defense increases are complemented by cuts to other programs so as not to increase the federal deficit of $ 488 billion. Mulvaney acknowledged that the proposal would likely result in significant cuts to the federal workforce.
“You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it,” Mulvaney said.
White House officials watched Trump’s campaign speeches and “America first” promises as they processed the numbers, Mulvaney said.
“We turn those policies into numbers,” he said, explaining how the document reflected promises to spend more on America’s nuclear weapons arsenal, veterans’ health care, the FBI, and the Department of Justice’s efforts to fight back. drug traffickers and violent crime.
The Department of Homeland Security would get a 6.8 percent increase, with more money for the additional personnel needed to catch, detain and deport illegal immigrants.
Trump wants Congress to spend $ 1.5 billion for the border wall with Mexico in the current fiscal year, enough for pilot projects to determine the best way to build it, and another $ 2.6 billion in fiscal 2018, Mulvaney said. .
The estimate of the total cost of the wall will be included in the full budget, expected in mid-May, which will project expenses and revenues over 10 years.
Trump has promised that Mexico will pay for the border wall, which the Mexican government has flatly said it will not. The White House has recently said that funding would start in the United States.
The voluminous budget document will include economic forecasts and Trump’s views on “mandatory rights,” high-cost programs like Social Security and Medicare, that Trump promised to protect in the election campaign.
THE GREATEST LOST
Trump asked Congress to cut the EPA by $ 2.6 billion or more than 31 percent, and the State Department by more than 28 percent or $ 10.9 billion.
Mulvaney said the “core functions” of those agencies would be preserved. The hardest hit would be foreign aid, grants to multilateral development agencies such as the World Bank, and United Nations climate change programs.
Trump wants to ditch more than 50 EPA programs, end funding for former Democratic President Barack Obama‘s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and cut renewable energy research programs in the Department of Energy.
Regional programs to clean up the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay would go to the chopping block.
Community development grants in the Housing Department, since 1974, have been cut in Trump’s budget, along with more than 20 Department of Education programs, including some funding program for before and after school programs.
Anti-poverty grants and a program that helps poor people pay their energy bills, as well as a Department of Labor program that helps low-income seniors find work, would be cut.
Trump’s rural base did not escape the cuts. The White House has proposed a 21 percent reduction to the Department of Agriculture, cutting wastewater loans and grants, reducing staff at county offices and ending a popular program that helps American farmers donate crops for food aid. abroad.