Do­mes­tic pro­gram cuts might fund bor­der wall

Do­mes­tic pro­grams such as NIH, CDBG grants are tar­geted.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drew Tay­lor

White House wants to slash NIH, block grants to raise $18B for Mex­i­can bar­rier down pay­ment.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is propos­ing im­me­di­ate bud­get cuts of $18 bil­lion from pro­grams like med­i­cal re­search, in­fra­struc­ture and com­mu­nity grants so U.S. taxpayers, not Mex­ico, can cover the down pay­ment on the bor­der wall.

The White House documents were sub­mit­ted to Congress amid ne­go­ti­a­tions over a catchall spend­ing bill that would avert a par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down at the end of next month. The pack­age would wrap up $1.1 tril­lion in un­fin­ished spend­ing bills and ad­dress the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­quest for an im­me­di­ate $30 bil­lion in ad­di­tional Pen­tagon spend­ing.

The lat­est Trump pro­posal, dis­closed Tuesday, would elim­i­nate $1.2 bil­lion in Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health re­search grants, a fa­vorite of both par­ties. The Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant pro­gram, also pop­u­lar, would be halved, amount­ing to a cut of $1.5 bil­lion, and Trump would strip $500 mil­lion from a pop­u­lar grant pro­gram for trans­porta­tion projects.

Like Trump’s 2018 pro­posed bud­get, which was panned by both Democrats and Repub­li­cans ear­lier this month, the pro­pos­als have lit­tle chance of be­ing en­acted. But they could cre­ate bad po­lit­i­cal op­tics for the Trump White House, since the ad­min­is­tra­tion asked ear­lier for $3 bil­lion to pay for the Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der wall and other im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment plans.

Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump re­peat­edly promised Mex­ico would pay for the wall, a claim that coun­try has dis­puted.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion is ask­ing the Amer­i­can tax­payer to cover the cost of a wall — un­needed, in­ef­fec­tive, ab­surdly ex­pen­sive — that Mex­ico was sup­posed to pay for, and he is cut­ting pro­grams vi­tal to the mid­dle class to get that done,” said Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The ros­ter of cuts was sent to Capi­tol Hill as a set of op­tions for GOP staff aides and law­mak­ers craft­ing a catchall spend­ing bill for the on­go­ing bud­get year, which ends Sept. 30.

Those talks are in­ten­si­fy­ing, but Se­nate Repub­li­cans are con­sid­er­ing back­ing away from a show­down with Democrats over whether to fund Trump’s re­quest for im­me­di­ate fund­ing for the bor­der wall. Se­nate Democrats have threat­ened to fil­i­buster any pro­vi­sion pro­vid­ing money for the wall and many Repub­li­cans aren’t very en­thu­si­as­tic about it.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Copies of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s first fed­eral bud­get are dis­played ear­lier this month at the Gov­ern­ment Print­ing Of­fice in Washington. The pro­posed bud­get was panned by Democrats and Repub­li­cans.

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