House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hammered the Trump administration’s new budget proposal on Thursday, framing the president’s federal spending blueprint as an immoral demolition of government that’s doomed in Congress.
“I don’t see how this budget can survive the light of day,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol.
“This budget is really a slap in the face of the future.”
Unveiled earlier in the day, Trump’s 2018 budget outline attempts to make good on the president’s campaign promise to boost the military and border security efforts while dramatically shrinking domestic programs across almost all other agencies. The proposed reductions include a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, 28 percent to the State Department, 18 percent to the Health and Human Services Department and 16 percent to the Army Corps of Engineers.
Pelosi characterized the proposal as evidence of the Republicans’ desire to dismantle the power and sweep of the federal government, even if it means slashing programs for education, the environment and low-income Americans.
“This is all about a philosophical distrust of the role of the federal government in any way of meeting the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said.
“Should we subject all spending to the harshest scrutiny? We certainly should … to make sure those investments accomplish what they set out to do,” Pelosi added.
“But that’s not what this is about. This is systemic deconstruction of the federal government.”
Pelosi has argued for years that there’s no better place to spend federal dollars than on education programs — spending that pays economic dividends in the long run, she says. With that in mind, the $11 billion in education cuts pushed by Trump’s plan makes little sense, Pelosi said.
“That is a stupid economy.”
The proposed reductions are almost certain to be rejected by Congress, despite the Republican control of both chambers, because even GOP leaders have, in the past, resisted cuts to domestic spending on the level Trump is proposing.
Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R-Wis.) largely declined to weigh in on Thursday, saying he’s still looking at the new proposal.
“It’s a long ongoing process,” Ryan told reporters Thursday. “This is the very beginning.”
As another hurdle, the $54 billion increase in Pentagon spending would burst through budget caps created by the 2011 Budget Control Act — caps Republicans want to keep in place. Democrats are also vowing to reject any spending bill that doesn’t hike domestic spending at the same level of defense programs.
The Democrats are poised to offer an alternative budget that would maintain that parity between defense and discretionary budget increases, while removing the caps.
“You’ll see a sharp contrast between the two budgets,” Pelosi said.
Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthOn The Money — Manchin slams brakes on Biden spending push House Budget chief praises Powell as Biden mulls replacement Democrats brace for new spending fights over Biden agenda MORE (D-Ky.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, suggested on Wednesday that Trump's proposed cuts were dead on arrival in the eyes of Democrats.
“It's hard to tell with this administration what is a negotiating position, and what is a total bluff, and what … actually should be taken literally,” Yarmuth said.
“But I know that if you're talking about cutting $54 billion out of non-defense discretionary spending, which would amount to about a 12 or 13 percent cut, then you're talking about doing real damage to many very, very important initiatives from the federal government.”
Pelosi on Thursday declined to predict how congressional Republicans would approach Trump’s proposal. But she left no mystery in hoping they reject it.
“As low as my expectations have been, this budget really goes beyond,” she said.
“While it may be a statement of President Trump’s values, I hope it’s not a statement of our colleagues’ values.”
Scott Wong contributed to this report.