Trump to Seek $8.6 Billion for Wall, Set Up New Budget Fight

Daniel Fowler
March 12, 2019

Few in Washington ever really learn lessons. "Taxpayers First." This will be Trump's third budget resolution sent to Congress.

To be sure, Mr. Trump's budget is a proposal and a wish list, with Bloomberg News reporting that Congress is likely to snub it. For one thing, presidential budget proposals stopped being serious documents years ago, perhaps decades ago, so, er ... why the hell not?

In addition to $8.6 billion more for the border wall, the plan would fund 5,000 new Border Patrol Agents, allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement to add 10,000 officers and investigators and expand detention centers, according to the White House budget office.

This is despite the intense resistance of Democrats which in the recent past led to the partial government shut down for 35 days.

Trump has yet to confirm the demand, although Reuters and other publications reported the appropriations would be included in the budget proposal the White House is scheduled to unveil Monday. The $2.7 trillion in proposed spending cuts over the decade is higher than any administration in history, they say.

The Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan arm of Congress, in January pushed out its projections for the deficit to top $1 trillion until 2022 from an earlier expectation of 2020 amid lower disaster relief spending.

The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss budget details before Monday's release of the plan and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday", Larry Kudlow, the White House's chief economic adviser, acknowledged the request and said the "whole issue of the wall, of border security, is of paramount importance". That's because Trump's budget assumes 3 percent annual economic growth for the next decade, a figure that's well in excess of what most economists expect. The Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C. -based think tank, predicted that the bill would increase wages and jobs, but like every other economist, it predicted that it would leave a crater in the national deficit.

"My 2020 Budget builds on the tremendous progress we have made and provides a clear roadmap for the Congress to bring federal spending and debt under control", Trump writes in a message to Congress that serves as the introduction to the budget plan.

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"Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government".

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who resisted the White House's efforts to incorporate the $5.2 billion wall request into the 2019 budget, was none to impressed with the proposal, according to USA Today. They said the money "would be better spent on rebuilding America". Using an emergency declaration to unlock $3.6 billion this time around poisoned the well for FY2020, although it's possible that Trump won't need to worry about it. The Democratic-led House already did so, and Trump's Republican allies in the Senate, uneasy over his move, are expected to follow suit.

Lawmakers are nearly certain to ignore numerous Trump administration's proposals.

But that was only one-fourth of what the president had asked for to build part of the wall, so he declared a national emergency in an attempt to acquire more funding. That figure is more than six times what Congress gave Trump for border projects in each of the past two fiscal years, and 6 per cent more than he has corralled by invoking emergency powers this year after he failed to get the money he wanted.

Presidential budgets tend to be seen as aspirational blueprints, rarely becoming enacted policy, and Trump's proposal for the new fiscal year, which begins October 1, sets up a showdown with Congress over priorities, especially as he reignites his push for money to build the U.S-Mexico border wall. The president's previous budget pushes have consistently had a tough time on Capitol Hill even when Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress.

In the 2000 miles southern border, only 700 miles have got barriers in place, which are mostly vehicle barriers and pedestrian fencing.

The wall with Mexico played a big part in Trump's campaign for the White House, and it's expected to again be featured in his 2020 re-election effort.

Associated Press Jill Colvin in Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report.

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