WASHINGTON ― Members of Congress have paid no mind to a Trump administration request calling for an array of cuts in a stopgap spending bill that must be passed this week to avoid a government shutdown.
Lawmakers had already basically hashed out an agreement on spending earlier this year, before the Trump administration started looking for ways to offset the cost of a new border wall with cuts that were like a mini version of the broader Trump 2018 budget proposal from March.
“Despite promising that Mexico was going to pay for it, he made a last-minute push to jam funding into this bill to force families and taxpayers to pay for his ill-conceived and expensive border wall,” Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), a member of the Senate Democrats’ leadership team, said Tuesday.
But despite the administration’s suggestion to cut $18 billion in domestic spending from programs that provide things like heating assistance and rural development in late March, those proposals haven’t been part of the conversation on Capitol Hill.
“He hasn’t said a word about the $18 billion in extreme cuts his fellow Republicans have simply ignored,” Murray said of the president.
Back in December, President-elect Trump’s transition team asked congressional leaders to hold off on setting spending levels for the next fiscal year, asking them instead to pass a “continuing resolution” that would keep government funding essentially on autopilot until spring. That way the Trump administration could weigh in on the process and advocate for its priorities.
Asked about the cuts proposed by Trump’s Office of Management and Budget, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he wants Congress to finish sorting out spending for the current fiscal year before dealing with what Trump wants for fiscal 2018.
“What we want to do is deal with our bill that was due Oct. 1 and the other I believe we ought to put off and have time to debate it,” Shelby told HuffPost on Wednesday.
Other Republicans said they felt the same way.
“The incoming administration really underestimated the amount of work that would be involved in trying to craft a budget for the next fiscal year,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters on Wednesday. “And it would have been much better if we finished this fiscal year, which after all we’re halfway through, back in December.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said “there was pretty much bipartisan agreement about the bill and then there were just these kind of ancillary issues that came up here late in the game which they’re trying to sort out.”
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Tuesday that Trump would sign a spending bill without any money for his border wall, a significant retreat from the administration’s earlier position.
But the funding fight isn’t settled, as Mulvaney and Democrats are still wrangling over whether the legislation should include money for the continuation of payments owed to insurers covering Obamacare enrollees. Separately, Republicans in the House of Representatives are also working this week on another long-shot bill to repeal the health care law.
A spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget declined to comment for this article.