Trump’s budget cuts to domestic, aid programs draw Republican scorn

Orient Net - Reuters 2017-03-17 09:40:00

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President Donald Trump’s first budget outline, calling for a security-heavy realignment of federal spending, drew resistance on Thursday from his fellow Republicans in the U.S. Congress as many balked at proposed deep cuts to diplomatic and foreign aid programs.

Conservatives have plenty to like in the White House plan, with its 10 percent increase in military spending next year and beefed-up funding to help deport more illegal immigrants and build a wall on the border with Mexico.

It also takes steps to downsize government, a central goal of conservatives.

But the gaze into Trump’s priorities for the next four years proved too savage for many Republicans’ taste, foreshadowing an intense battle between Congress and the White House over spending in coming months.

Although Republicans control both the Senate and House of Representatives, Congress holds the federal purse strings and seldom approves presidents’ budget plans.

The administration asked Congress for a 28 percent, or $10.9 billion, cut in State Department funding and other international programs to help pay for a 10 percent, $54 billion hike in military spending next year.

"These increases in defense come at the expense of national security," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has not hesitated to take on Trump. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who like Graham ran unsuccessfully for president in 2016, leveled similar sentiments, as did some prominent Republicans in the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Paul Ryan sidestepped reporters’ questions about whether he supported State Department cuts, saying the White House blueprint was just the start of the budget process.

The budget also drew criticism internationally. The French ambassador to the United Nations, Francois Delattre, warned that cutting funding of global programs could fuel instability.