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America First

To pay for Trump's border wall and military buildup, House Republicans target the safety net

In the latest omnibus spending bill, President Trump got no money for his proposed border wall with Mexico, and Democrats won an increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health. Trump also got a big bump in military spending, and Democrats lost quite a bit, but "enraged by Democrats claiming victory after last month's government funding agreement, White House officials in recent weeks have pressed Hill Republicans to include more Trump priorities in the fiscal 2018 blueprint," Politico reports, and House Republicans are obliging.

Republicans are facing competing pressures and ideological priorities when writing their budget blueprint: Trump's expensive spending wish list — including infrastructure spending, the border wall, and the military — his campaign promises not to cut Medicare and Social Security, their longterm promises to shrink America's public debt and balance the budget, the GOP wish list of large tax cuts, and the political realities exposed in the fight to pass their health-care bill. Given those choices, House Republicans are considering cutting more than $400 billion, largely from domestic programs like food stamps, financial support for disabled adults and needy children, and maybe even veterans benefits.

"The critique last time was that we didn't embed enough Trump agenda items into our budget," Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), a budget panel member, tells Politico. Trump has "made it clear it will be embedded in this budget. ... And so people will see a process much more aligned with President Trump's agenda in this forthcoming budget." The White House reportedly backs cuts to the same safety-net programs, which will be left to individual committees to flesh out. It is unclear what Senate Republicans will do, but the plan is to use the budget reconciliation process, meaning they'd need only a simply majority to pass the budget. You can read more about the GOP plans at Politico.