Democrats are rallying against plans by President Donald Trump to cut $54 billion from non-defense side of the discretionary budget in fiscal 2018 in order to offset a corresponding increase in military spending. The proposed cuts threaten major federal programs that are essential for economic developers across the United States, as Democrats and advocates expect export-oriented, manufacturing, business-focused, education, and workforce programs to be targeted by the conservative administration.
President Trump’s proposed reduction to the domestic budget comes as non-defense spending is already on track to reach historic lows before the end of Trump’s first term, unless Congress acts to raise budgetary caps put in place in 2011 (PL 112-25). Under that budget law, defense spending is limited to $549 billion and nondefense spending is capped at $515.4 billion for fiscal 2018, which begins on October 1. Congress would need to pass a new budget law – not just a fiscal 2018 budget resolution that could be adopted with only Republican votes – in order to raise the caps to accommodate Trump’s proposals. The law could pose yet another hurdle for the Trump administration's plans.
Democrats, whose votes will be needed to advance fiscal 2018 appropriations later this year, reiterated their opposition to Trump’s budget plans, indicating that they will oppose any effort to boost defense spending at the expense of domestic programs. Democratic lawmakers perceive Trump’s budget guidance as setting the stage for drastic cuts that will hurt American workers and weaken the national economy, and they are prepared to stall any proposals that shift more economic burdens onto American families, businesses, and communities.
Republicans were also lukewarm to Trump’s proposal for drastic cuts, suggesting that the first budget request to Congress could be a tough sell. Republican lawmakers and appropriators are also skeptical of the budget proposal, given that non-defense spending is already at historically low levels. Many Republicans also have a lot of vested interests in protecting services and investments that are critical to hardworking American families and communities across the country. Funding for programs that invest in American communities and provide opportunities for all Americans to get ahead are already under significant pressure, and cutting them even further is dangerous and short-sighted.