WASHINGTON, President Donald Trump plans to seek another $8.6 billion for a border wall in his new budget to be released Monday, White House officials say.
This new request would be on top of the nearly $7 billion Trump has ordered to be used to build a wall under his state of emergency declaration.
The budget also calls for a big boost for the Pentagon and a 5 percent cut in nonmilitary programs.
Trump’s third budget proposal during his presidency, for the year starting in October, is expected to draw wide opposition from Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans, setting off months of debate just weeks after a record 35-day government shutdown over government spending in the current year was ended.
“It will be a tough budget,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Television Sunday. “We’re going to do our own (spending) caps this year and I think it’s long overdue. … Some of these recent budget deals have not been favorable towards spending. So, I think it’s exactly the right prescription.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement Sunday they hoped the president had “learned his lesson” from the shutdown, caused partly by Congress’ refusal in December to pay $5 billion toward Trump’s border wall.
Trump “hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall,” the joint statement said. “Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson.”
Kudlow said he expects a new fight over border wall funding.
But he contends Trump has justified his call for the wall’s construction, even though polls show a majority of voters oppose it.
“I would just say that the whole issue of the wall, of border security, is of paramount importance,” Kudlow said. “We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case effectively. It’s a crisis of economics, it’s a crisis of crime and drugs, it’s a crisis of humanity.”
The White House will release Trump’s budget the same week the Senate will likely vote to throw out his emergency declaration. The House already voted it down. Trump has said he will veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.
U.S. presidents and Congress have traditionally squabbled over budgets, which spell out how to spend taxpayer dollars and the size of annual deficits.
The current budget is more than $4.4 trillion, with a deficit of about $1 trillion expected, largely because of Trump’s 2017 tax cuts.
There are signs the U.S. economy, which grew at a 2.9 percent pace last year, is slowing.
But Kudlow said he was not worried by some predictions the American economy will only advance a little more than 2 percent this year.
“I’m not going to score it just yet,” Kudlow said. “I’ll take the over on that forecast. As long as we keep our policies intact, low tax rates for individuals and businesses, across the board deregulation, lighten the paperwork, let small businesses breathe and get a good rate of return. … Our policies are strong and I think the growth rate this coming year will exceed these estimates just as they have last year.”
Kudlow said the U.S. is “making good progress” in ongoing trade talks with China, although an agreement has not yet been reached.
“As the president said, across the board, the deal has to be good for the United States, for our workers and our farmers, and our manufacturers, got to be good,” Kudlow said. “It’s got be fair and reciprocal. It has to be enforceable. That’s an important point.”
Source: Voice of America