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Trump's Budget Meets Bipartisan Opposition and Big Sequestration Hurdle

WASHINGTON – President Trump’s first budget takes a meat ax to a long list of domestic programs, eliminating funding for old stalwarts like the community development block grant program and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, slicing into traditional areas of diplomacy and annihilating federal environmental efforts while dedicating more money to defense, veterans and building a wall along the Mexican border.

The proposed $1.15 trillion spending package for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins Nov. 1, makes huge cuts from top to bottom on the domestic side while increasing Pentagon funding, which already represents the federal government’s largest area of expenditure, by 10 percent.

The Trump administration’s federal spending blueprint was issued in what is known as a “skinny” budget on Thursday, with additional details to be released when the comprehensive executive budget plan is offered later in the spring.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget who pieced together the spending plan, characterized the package as “the ‘America First’ budget.”

“In fact, we wrote it using the president’s own words,” Mulvaney said. “We went through his speeches, we went through articles that have been written about his policies, we talked to him, and we wanted to know what his policies were, and we turned those policies into numbers. So you have an ‘America First’ candidate, you have an ‘America First’ budget.”

Mulvaney said Trump was committed to increasing certain areas of the budget, particularly defense, without adding to a deficit already projected to reach $488 billion in FY 2018, requiring reductions in a host of other areas. To hike the Pentagon budget by $54 billion, he said, the president chose to make corresponding $54 billion cuts elsewhere.

“So the president accomplishes his priorities without adding to the deficit,” Mulvaney said. “That’s not to say the balance of the budget is balanced next year. It doesn’t. We’ve simply not added to the deficit in order to accomplish these policies.”

As a result, the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency will be among the departments experiencing cuts, if Trump gets his wish list in Congress.

“In fact, you'll see reductions in many agencies as he tries to shrink the role of government, drive efficiencies, go after waste, duplicative programs, those types of things,” Mulvaney said. “If he said it on the campaign, it’s in the budget.”

Despite expressions of optimism emanating from the White House, early returns indicate the spending package has no chance of passing in anything close to its current form. Democrats are united in opposition and some Republicans are already voicing criticism.

“I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the president’s skinny budget are draconian, careless and counterproductive,” said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.