Politics

Trump Budget Request Rolls Out to a Quarreling Congress

Selling deep cuts aimed at poor and middle class could be rough going

Eric Ueland, Republican Staff Director for the Senate Budget Committee, hands out copies of President Donald Trump's fiscal 2018 Budget in the Dirksen Building on May 23, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday released his first full budget proposal, a sweeping tax and spending outline for fiscal 2018 that would balance in 10 years, hike military spending and forecast booming economic growth.

 

The ambitious fiscal blueprint now heads to a bitterly divided Congress, which has the authority to adopt or reject the White House spending plans. Trump’s budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, will visit the Capitol this week to try to sell the $4.1 trillion outline to top budget writers in the House and Senate.

Those hearings will officially kick off the fiscal 2018 budget and appropriations cycle in Congress, a process that has been on hold for months as lawmakers waited for Trump’s full budget proposal and as they finished up last year’s spending work.

At a White House news briefing Tuesday, Mulvaney framed the proposal as a “taxpayer first” budget that would trim needless federal spending and reinvigorate the economy with massive tax cuts and deregulation.

“We looked at this budget through the eyes of the people who were actually paying the bills,” he said.

But large portions of the White House budget are unlikely to gain traction in Congress. Democrats on Tuesday slammed Trump’s plans to bulldoze domestic discretionary spending and cut social safety net programs like food stamps and health care for kids.

Republicans largely praised Trump’s efforts to balance the budget and bolster economic growth, but many GOP members have been quick to point out that the power of the purse ultimately lies with them, not the administration.

“I hope that people don’t panic over the president’s — any president’s — budget,” Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., said last week. “They’re just suggestions.”

Enzi echoed those remarks in a statement Tuesday, while praising Trump for writing a budget that would trim government spending and balance within 10 years.

House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., didn’t comment on Trump’s budget proposal in a statement Tuesday, instead laying out how Congress will analyze the request and “put forward our own plan to fund the federal government.”

Mulvaney acknowledged the tradition of Congress ignoring presidents’ budgets, but he said the document still sends a message about what Trump wants to do with the budget and the economy in the big picture.

“If Congress has a different way to get to that end point, God bless ‘em,” he told reporters at a budget briefing on Monday.

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