President Donald Trump is seeking one of the largest-ever cuts to domestic discretionary spending in a $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget proposal that also boosts defense spending and adds $8.6 billion for building a border wall.
The budget blueprint released Monday, 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. It also raises the threat of a funding showdown that could trigger another government shutdown in the fall.
The proposal calls for reducing regular non-defense discretionary spending from $597 billion to $543 billion, a $54 billion, or 9 percent cut in 2020. When disaster-relief funding is factored in, the cut amounts to $28 billion, or 4.6 percent.
Particularly hard hit would be the Environmental Protection Agency, and departments of State, Energy, Transportation and Agriculture. The EPA would receive a 31 percent cut compared with its December funding level, while State would receive a 23 percent cut and Housing and Urban Development would see a 16 percent cut. Along with Defense, the departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs would get increases larger than expected inflation.
The top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee immediately dismissed the administration’s proposal. “President Trump has somehow managed to produce a budget request even more untethered from reality than his past two,” Nita Lowey of New York said in a statement. “The Trump budget has no chance of garnering the necessary bipartisan support to become law.”
The document lacks details on individual programs that normally comes as part of the president’s request. The rest is expected later this month.
Still, the plan provides an early view into the policy platform Trump is likely to adopt in his re-election fight, emphasizing security and immigration control priorities at the expense of welfare programs viewed skeptically by many within his base.
It also will provide campaign fodder for the legion of Democrats seeking to oust him from the White House in 2020 as well as congressional candidates, who are likely to seize on proposals to cut social services and add new eligibility requirements as they seek to persuade suburban voters.
To achieve savings in some mandatory programs, Medicaid would be transformed partially into a grant program, crop insurance supports would be cut and $200 billion would be saved by changing student loans. The budget says rooting out Medicare waste nets $456 billion over 10 years.
The president’s top priorities, meanwhile receive a $1 trillion boost over 10 years under his proposal, including a $34 billion boost in overall defense spending to $750 billion in 2020.
Under current law, the $716 billion defense budget cap would fall to $576 billion in fiscal 2020 and the non-defense cap would fall from $597 billion to $543 billion. Trump is proposing to keep both caps in place while supplying defense with $165 billion in war funds not subject to automatic cuts and another $9 billion in emergency funds. Pentagon officials and lawmakers have long derided using emergency war funds for regular Defense Department operations as a gimmick.
Funding proposed for the construction of his coveted border wall next year would come from $5 billion in the Homeland Security budget and $3.6 billion from military construction funds. He’s requesting an additional $3.6 billion for military construction to replace money he intends to shift this year to border wall construction.
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The administration is proposing to offset some agency costs by imposing new fees on oil companies, chemical manufacturers and railroads. For instance, new chemical facility compliance assurance fee would help offset costs at the Environmental Protection Agency, raising some $20 million in fiscal 2020. An oil facility compliance assistance fee would raise an estimated $100 million over the next decade.
The administration also is proposing a new fee for replacing Social Security cards, estimated to bring in $270 million in fiscal 2020.