Trump to release ‘hard power budget’ with cuts to State Dept, EPA
President Donald Trump released a $1.1 trillion budget outline Thursday that proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending corresponding cuts to non-defense spending at the State Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and dozens of other federal programs.
The blueprint features the broad strokes of Trump’s plan to dramatically remake the federal government. It includes plans to slash spending at everything from the National Institutes of Health to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, while boosting spending at the Pentagon.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, described the proposal as a “hard power budget” in a Wednesday briefing with reporters, meaning the Trump administration will prioritize defense spending over diplomacy and foreign aid.
In that vein, the administration will recommend a 28% cut to the State Department, Mulvaney said, including a 38% reduction in foreign aid spending.
A US official told CNN earlier this month that cuts would come from the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs and projects the fund programs at United Nations.
“There is no question that this is a hard power budget, it is not a soft power budget,” Mulvaney said. “This is a hard power budget and that was done intentionally. The President very clearly wants to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is strong power administration.”
The budget makes good on a series of promises Trump made on the campaign trail, including reductions in the EPA in an attempt to “shrink the role of government” in American’s lives.
Sources inside the EPA have told CNN that they anticipate at least 25% in budget cuts, and possibly deeper. Discussions have been ongoing for weeks regarding these cuts, which are expected to include grants to states aimed at protecting air, water and land.
Mulvaney said Wednesday that “core functions of the EPA can be satisfied with this budget,” but officials at the EPA disagree.
“It is a sad day when a group of millionaires and billionaires in Washington can decide what’s best for America’s health and environment,” said John O’Grady, head of the union that represents EPA employees. “How can this administration tell America that we will have clean air and clean water with a 25% reduction in US EPA’s budget?”
He added: “The US EPA is already on a starvation diet, with a bare-bones budget and staffing level. The administration’s proposed budget will be akin to taking away the Agency’s bread and water.”
The budget blueprint is not a complete budget, meaning it will not include revenue projections, any impacts to mandatory spending and policy projections. But it will detail what Trump plans to spend his biggest 2016 campaign promise: Building a border wall along the US-Mexico border.
According to Mulvaney, the budget will include a request for $1.5 billion as the first installment payment for Trump’s promised wall and then another installment of $2.26 billion in 2018.
Mulvaney said, though, that the White House was unable to answer how much the wall will eventually cost or how many miles it will cover.
“We don’t know the answer to that question because we haven’t settled on construction types, we haven’t settled on where we’re going to start,” Mulvaney said. “I think the funding provides for a couple of different pilot cases.”
The Trump administration will release its full budget in May and, according to Mulvaney, that is when the 10-year projection on the border wall will be outlined.
In their first budget proposal, the White House announced in February that they planned to increase defense spending to $603 billion and decrease non-defense discretionary spending to $462 billion — a swap of roughly $54 billion between the two government buckets.
Mulvaney also said Wednesday that the Department of Housing and Urban Development should expect cuts.
Trump, Mulvaney said, wants to “get rid of programs that don’t work” and that “a lot of those are in HUD.”
Mulvaney said they will “move money around” HUD and not create any new programs.