Doomed with Democrats, Trump's budget boosts Pentagon, targets safety net

Trump to seek another US$8.6b for border wall
Trump Plan Postpones Balanced Budget Despite Deep Spending Cuts

12 March, 2019

In a joint Sunday statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., vowed that the president's proposal would be defeated just as his previous funding request was shot down earlier this year following the lengthiest government shutdown in USA history.

"The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again", said the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of NY.

The government shutdown for 35 days beginning in December after Congress and the White House deadlocked on funding for the wall.

In a joint statement, the Democratic leaders said they hope Trump "learned his lesson" from the last partial government shutdown because additional efforts to secure border wall funds will fail.

The contrast is meant to bring into sharper focus the White House's priorities heading into budget negotiations this summer, even if many lawmakers have already declared the proposals dead on arrival.The wall demands will attract a particular focus, because Trump has shown it to be the one area he will amplify into a political brawl.

The White House Office of Management and Budget said the president's budget request seeks $2.7 trillion in cuts - "higher than any other administration in history". He used to say Mexico would pay for it, but Mexico has refused to do so.

President Trump is releasing a $4.7 trillion budget plan Monday that stands as a sharp challenge to Congress and the Democrats trying to unseat him, the first act in a multi-front struggle that could consume Washington for the next 18 months.

Trump lost the first round in his battle with Congress over wall construction money, with lawmakers rejecting any appropriation for the wall, while offering almost $1.4 billion in money for barriers. That figure is more than six times what Congress gave Trump for border projects in each of the past two fiscal years, and 6 percent more than he has corralled by invoking emergency powers this year after he failed to get the money he wanted. Republicans control the Senate.

"The budget sustains deployed missile defense assets, improves system reliability against today's threats, increases engagement capability and capacity, and makes strides to rapidly address the advanced threat", the White House announcement states.

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Funding for a border wall is also included, but will likely be completely rejected by the Democrat-controlled House.

White House officials say there are already 196km of barriers that have been completed or are under construction.

The House voted February 26 to block the emergency declaration, and enough Republicans have said they'll also vote against it for it to pass in the Senate.

The administration has not estimated how far the 2019 funds will go, but officials said average costs are about $25 million per mile (1.6 km).

Other initiatives the budget proposal touches upon include: school safety, expanding school choice accessibility and "promoting workforce development for the 21st century".

In the budget announcement, Trump said the proposed military pay hike is "the largest increase in a decade". We're going to do our own [spending] caps this year and I think it's long overdue.

The Trump administration is interested in extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) beyond 2020, Undersecretary of State Andrea Thompson said at the 2019 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference on Monday. It also emphasizes the White House's desire to reform the 340B drug discount program, reducing payments to hospitals that provide little charity care and requiring that covered providers submit reports about their use of program savings.

As in previous years, Trump's blueprint also calls for $USD200 billion for infrastructure spending, with the Trump administration open to working with Congress to construct a package that could attract bipartisan support.

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