President Donald Trump’s heavy emphasis on defense spending is winning praise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but critics warn it comes at the expense of other vital government programs.
In a floor speech Tuesday, McConnell singled out elements of Trump’s proposed $4.1 trillion dollar “Taxpayer First” budget he considers promising, including a 10 percent increase in military spending, bolstered border security, and renewed attention to law enforcement technology.
"The provisions I mentioned are encouraging to see," the Republican leader said. He indicated the priorities set out in the budget will serve as "guideposts" for the Senate Budget Committee.
Items on the chopping block range from the Environmental Protection Agency, which would see its budget shrink by close to a third, to Medicaid, targeted for more than $800 billion in cuts. In addition to slashing safety-net spending, Trump's proposal would also wind down the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership that's distributed hundreds of millions in funds for Eastern Kentucky infrastructure and training projects.
John Yarmuth, Kentucky’s lone congressional Democrat, joined Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in labeling the plan “Robin Hood in reverse.”
"This budget starts by taking health care, then food, then housing, then education, then job opportunities," the Louisville lawmaker told reporters.
A united Democratic front, combined with some pockets of GOP resistance on specific issues, suggests the Trump budget is unlikely to emerge without significant revisions. It will be up to McConnell and his colleagues to decide just how many cues they take from the president.