President Donald Trump’s administration on Thursday released an outline of its budget request for fiscal year 2018, calling for a $54 billion hike in defense spending paid for by cuts to foreign aid and domestic programs.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the “America first” budget is based on the promises Trump made to the American people during the 2016 campaign. It prioritizes defense, border security, “enforcing laws on the books,” and private and public school choice “without adding to the already projected” $400 billion-plus deficit, he said.
The administration is proposing a 28 percent cut in State Department and USAID funding, lower than the 37 percent cut floated by the White House in late February and panned by some congressional Republicans.
“The president ran saying he would spend less money overseas and more money at home,” Mulvaney said.
The budget also calls for the steepest cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services. Investment in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — which Trump had proposed ending funding for altogether — will also be reduced significantly. “You’ll see an amount of money in the budget” to unwind involvement with the media nonprofit, Mulvaney said. “It may take awhile to unwind those contracts.”
In addition to increased defense spending, the departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Transportation would also receive significant boosts under the White House’s proposal.
A Morning Consult/POLITICO survey earlier this month found most voters prefer the status quo or spending increases to budget cuts, but support for cuts to the State Department (25 percent) and the EPA (24 percent) were among the highest.
Mulvaney said agencies would have “flexibility” in how the cuts would be enacted. And despite the slashed spending, Mulvaney said the administration believes “core functions” of the government “can be satisfied.”
Along with the 2018 budget blueprint, Mulvaney provided details on a supplemental budget request for the rest of 2017 that would call for $30 billion in outlays on defense and border security, including $1.5 billion to begin work on Trump’s wall along the Mexican border.
Mulvaney said the border wall is still a work in progress, and the administration has not settled on any firm plans. Some funding will go to “pilot” cases to see which barriers work best, he said. The most “cost-efficient, safest and also most effective border protections,” he added, “may be different in different areas.”
More details would come in May, Mulvaney said, but the direction of the supplemental spending should be viewed as indicative of where the president wants to see the budget go. The 2018 budget would “dovetail” with his changes to the 2017 budget, he said.