President Trump is currently crafting a budget to send to Congress. His initial outline would boost military spending by 10 percent in fiscal year 2018. And to pay for that, he’s proposing steep cuts to a bunch of other domestic agencies — including, reportedly, a 24 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency and a 30 percent cut to the State Department. Suffice to say, those are wrenching changes.
But ultimately, Congress will have the final say over any budget. And key Senate Republicans are already skeptical of Trump’s outline. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told NBC that the reported State Department cuts were "dead on arrival."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also told reporters on Tuesday that any budget including such deep cuts to the State Department would never pass through the Senate.
A few Republicans are also balking at Trump’s proposed EPA cuts, which would likely mean eliminating not just climate change programs but cutting back on a variety of other popular environmental measures as well. Over at E&E News, George Cahlink and Geof Koss got some choice quotes:
There's "not that much in the EPA [budget] for crying out loud," said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chairman of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, when asked about the reported cuts. He noted that more than a quarter of the EPA budget goes toward popular drinking water and clean air grants for states, local communities and tribes that lawmakers from both parties would be reluctant to cut.
It’s worth noting that last year in the House, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), who chairs the committee overseeing the EPA’s $8 billion budget, only wanted to cut the agency’s funding by 6 percent and freeze staffing at current levels of 15,000. He told E&E that he’d have to wait for more details before weighing in on Trump’s proposals.
A White House budget document is usually more of a statement of priorities than anything else. Trump can’t force Congress to pass his budget, although lawmakers might take some cues from his detailed proposal. But it’s notable that so many lawmakers in the White House’s own party are railing against his sharp budget cuts this early.
Anyway, this process is still very much unfolding. On Monday, the White House sent broad topline numbers to each of the federal agencies, along with recommendations for programs to cut. The agencies will comment and offer their feedback. By March 16, the White House will publish a formal "budget blueprint." By May, the Trump administration will finalize a detailed budget request and send it to Congress. Then the House and Senate will get to fiddle with spending levels. So a lot could change between now and then.