President Trump sent a $4.4 trillion 2019 budget to the U.S. Congress for ratification on Feb. 12 and the membership of the Congressional Black Caucus rejected it outright.
Highlights of the Trump budget include extensive cuts to domestic programs and entitlements and large increases in the military. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the top CBC member who sits on the House Budget Committee, dismissed the president’s proposal.
Rep. Barbara Lee, the senior CBC member on the House Budget Committee, dismissed the president’s proposed budget. (Courtesy photo)
“After giving massive tax cuts to billionaires, President Trump’s disgraceful slashes to Medicaid, Medicare, nutrition assistance, heating assistance and attempts to yet again repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Lee said. “This Robin Hood-in-reverse agenda is the last thing American families need.”
As required by law, the president creates and sends a budget to the U.S. Congress for consideration. However, as has been the case for decades, the president’s budget has been “dead on arrival” when it reaches the U.S. House of Representatives, which is the body that first considers government revenue spending as mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
Still, the president’s budget is a reflection of what the administration’s priorities are and in some cases can be used as a public relations tool. Trump’s budget would fund his border wall, give money to fight the opioid crisis and privatize such entities as Dulles International Airport and Washington Reagan National Airport.
Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on a promise for $1.5 trillion in infrastructure upgrades, actually set forth $200 billion for that and much of the money is contingent on private investors and states putting forth money. That was no good for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who tweeted “45 releases FAKE infrastructure plan today.”
“No money left to repair crumbling bridges/roads/tunnels after #GOPTaxScam,” he tweeted. “America deserves a #ABetter Deal.”
Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) said that Trump’s infrastructure proposal is inadequate to meet the nation’s needs.
“It’s no secret that fixing our nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, and railroads remain a priority for both sides of the aisle,” Veasey said. “Where Democrats and Republicans differ is in our approach to spur job growth and our commitment to ensuring the economic benefits from any plan reach the middle class first. President Trump’s mediocre $200 billion proposal leaves states, cities, and local governments to foot the bill and puts additional pressure on their budgets that are already stretched too thin.”
We need an infrastructure plan that makes daily life easier for America’s hard-working families, not one that makes your family foot the bill with more taxes and tolls” The Texas congressman said.
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) criticized Trump for targeting programs that help the most financially-vulnerable citizens. Alabama has the sixth highest percentage of Blacks in the country with 26.2 percent of the population.
“As healthcare costs, food costs and education costs rise, President Trump’s budget hits working families where it hurts the most by cutting the basics, including food assistance and child care, repealing the Affordable Care Act, slashing funding for student aid and a host of programs that specifically help communities of need,” Sewell said.
She said Alabama’s 850,000 residents rely on SNAP (food stamps) to put food on the table and was cut by over $200 billion, and Trump cut Medicare (health care for seniors) by $230 billion when “many hospitals in our state are struggling to stay open.”
“Make no mistake, if the budget becomes law, more Alabamians will go homeless, more children will go hungry and more families will go uninsured,” Sewell said.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) noted that Trump’s budget ignores the DC TAG (District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Grant) program that helps the District of Columbia’s college bound and enrolled residents receive money to pay in-state tuition at higher education institutions not in the District.
“I want to assure D.C. parents and students, thousands of whom are away at college now, that I do not believe they are in danger of losing their tag funds,” the delegate said. “DC TAG has been funded every year by Republican and Democratic Congresses alike and unlike Trump this year, Republican presidents as well, since its creation. This draconian and backwards budget shows how out of touch this administration is with reality.”
A spokeswoman for the CBC told the AFRO that Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) isn’t likely to respond to the president’s budget and that the CBC and its staff are working on its annual budget proposal.