Trump expected to seek $8.6B for border wall in new budget

Geraldine Edwards
March 13, 2019

Trump's request for border wall funding presages a new fight with lawmakers over the issue in the coming months during the third year of the Trump presidency.

'As you know this is an area where we're exhausted of being right, ' said acting Office of Management and Budget director Russ Vought on CNBC on Monday morning.

Trump wants to cut funding for most federal government agencies by $USD2.7 trillion, while boosting defence spending and setting aside $USD8.6 billion for the proposed wall along the US-Mexico border.

Concerns over possible cuts to middle-class programs like Medicare and Social Security will be on full display on Tuesday when Trump's acting budget director Russell Vought heads to Capitol Hill to face questioning from House Democrats about the plan.

"My 2020 Budget builds on the tremendous progress we have made and provides a clear roadmap for the Congress to bring federal spending and debt under control", Trump writes in a message to Congress that serves as the introduction to the budget plan. Despite media messaging that permeates even many other conservative outlets, actual cuts - i.e. literally spending less year over year - are rare. "The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again", the leaders continued.

After a showdown with Trump, Congress only allocated $1.3 billion of the $5.7 billion Trump requested for the wall's construction.

A few weeks later, Congress agreed to fund $1.375 billion to finance 55 miles of barrier on the border in Texas.

Vought said, "Many of the reforms that we have are not what we would call a cut".

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The budget blueprint, which forecasts annual deficits extending beyond the next decade and rising national debt, represents a wish list for the president's priorities that is certain to be ignored by Congress.

That means some departments and programs may see steeper proposed cuts than 5 percent.

Presidential budget proposals are never more than just wish lists, a sort-of State of the Union speech in spreadsheet form.

He said the budget proposal includes some elements Democrats could support, such as efforts to lower the cost of prescription drugs, a $200 billion boost for infrastructure and more money to combat the opioid epidemic.

Trump "hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall", their statement said. The administration predicts that the United States will return to budget balance in 2034.

"The Trump Administration's budget fails the Great Lakes and the communities which depend on them for their drinking water, public health, jobs, and quality of life", said a statement from Lord.

It would also cut federal subsidies to farmers, add a user fee on e-cigarettes and end a tax credit for electric vehicle purchases.

One of the provisions getting significant attention already is a request for $8.6 billion in border wall funding as part of a total $32.5 billion border security and immigration enforcement ask.

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"This budget contains almost $2.7 trillion in savings, more spending reductions proposed than any administration in history", Vought told reporters at the White House on Monday.

By adhering to strict budget caps, Trump is signaling a fight ahead.

Not even the budget is above a dose of "Russiagate" hysteria. The Republican-led Congress last year rejected Trump's proposed cuts and instead approved $1.21 billion in program funding for fiscal year 2019.

President Donald Trump attends a meeting Thursday in the Oval Office at the White House.

Separately, Kudlow expressed optimism that USA economic growth will surpass three percent "in 2019 and beyond".

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 Democratic-led House already did so, and Trump's Republican allies in the Senate, uneasy over his move, are expected to follow suit.

"This budget uses every gimmick and huge assumptions and it still doesn't get somewhere to be proud of", said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

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