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Trump’s $1.1tr budget seeks to boost military

A woman walks by the Farragut Houses, a public housing project in Brooklyn on Thursday in New York City.The budget blueprint President Donald Trump released Thursday calls for the cutting of billions of dollars in funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump asked the US Congress on Thursday to approve a 2018 budget that would bolster military programs and begin building a wall on the southern border with Mexico while drastically cutting many federal agencies.
Trump’s $1.1 trillion budget plan, showcasing his administration’s priorities, is just the first volley in what will likely be an intense battle over spending in coming months. Although both the Senate and House of Representatives are controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, Congress holds the federal purse strings and seldom approves presidents’ budget plans.
Trump’s plan took a big swipe at some federal institutions, envisaging a more than 31 percent cut, or $2.6 billion, for the Environmental Protection Agency and a 28 percent reduction, or $10.9 billion, for the State Department and other international programs.
In a message with his budget submitted to Congress, Trump said he aimed to advance “the safety and security of the American people,” adding he would do so with $54 billion in added military spending next year and putting more money into deporting illegal immigrants.
Predictably, Democrats denounced the proposed steep cuts to spending on domestic programs. But some prominent Republicans were also quick to criticize the budget.
Protecting national interests requires a comprehensive approach, “including not just military engagement but also the full and responsible use of all diplomatic tools at our disposal,” said Republican Representative Hal Rogers, who chairs a panel that oversees State Department and foreign aid spending.
Under Trump’s plan, funding would disappear altogether for 19 independent agencies that count on federal money for public broadcasting, the arts and regional programs from Alaska to Appalachia.
Moderate Republicans expressed unease with potential cuts to popular domestic programs such as home-heating subsidies, clean-water projects and job training.
Trump’s budget outline covered just “discretionary” spending, or programs that must be renewed annually by Congress, for the 2018 fiscal year starting on Oct. 1.