Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget plan includes billions for funding a border wall and work requirements for welfare benefits that have practically assured another confrontation with Democrats in Congress.
The upcoming showdown comes at the heels of a partial shutdown that was caused by a border wall dispute that only ended when Trump declared a national emergency over immigration. The new budget request is asking for $8.6 billion for the wall composed of $5 billion from Congress and $3.6 billion from the military construction budget.
The other controversial component of the budget is the work requirements for welfare. It seeks to require Americans 18-65 years old to work at least 20 hours a week in a job, job training program, or a community service program to be able to avail of several welfare benefits and aid.
This requirement would apply to food stamps, Medicaid, and federal housing although there will be a hardship exemption. The administration already paved the way for states to put in work requirements for Medicaid recipients last year. The current proposal would just elevate the requirements to the federal level.
Some welfare work requirements are actually already in place. For instance, able-bodied recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (i.e. food stamps) needed to put in 80 hours of work a month. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients also has work requirements.
While a $1.1 trillion deficit is expected by October 1, there will be deep cuts to several domestic programs in the new budget.
In a statement, Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russ Vought said, “In the last two years, President Trump and his Administration have prioritized reining in reckless Washington spending. The Budget that we have presented to Congress and the American people…embodies fiscal responsibility and takes aim at Washington’s waste, fraud, and abuse.”
“Our national debt nearly doubled under the previous Administration and now stands at more than $22 trillion,” he continued. “This Budget shows that we can return to fiscal sanity without halting our economic resurgence while continuing to invest in critical priorities.”
The new budget proposal comes as the administration prepares for roughly 180,000 migrants who are traveling as families, a record number, who plan to cross the border either illegally or claiming asylum.
During a House hearing last week, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, “We want to strengthen legal immigration and welcome more individuals through a merit-based system that enhances our economic vitality and vibrancy of our diverse nation. We also will continue to uphold our humanitarian ideals. But illegal immigration is simply spiraling out of control and threatening public safety and national security.”
A previous confrontation with Democrats about border wall funding triggered the partial shutdown that only ended after Trump declared a national emergency last month, allowing him access funds from military accounts.
However, Democrats insist that an emergency at the border is “non-existent,” and vowed to continue blocking proposals to build the wall.
“President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.
“Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson,” they said while suggesting that there are better uses for the funds such as “education and workforce development.”
But the pushback on this “tough” budget is expected, says White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.
“I would just say that the whole issue of the wall, of border security, is of paramount importance. We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case very effectively,” he told Fox News Sunday.
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