House Democrats are sending an early message to Republicans: if you pursue President Trump’s budget legislatively, the government will shut down.
Congress should raise spending caps equally for domestic and defense spending, House Appropriations Committee Democrats and other party leaders said Thursday. Trump has instead called for raising the defense budget by $54 billion, while cutting spending at non-defense domestic agencies the same amount. The White House released its “skinny” budget in March and is expected to submit its full budget blueprint Tuesday.
“There is no chance that government funding bills could be enacted while adhering to such a budget,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, “setting the stage for another disastrous government shutdown. We want to make that clear: there’s no chance this could happen, so if you [want to] shut the government down, keep talking about the skinny budget.”
Democrats noted the majority party -- with the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and many conservatives unlikely to agree on certain spending priorities -- would need their support to pass a spending bill in September. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., the House Budget Committee’s ranking member, said lawmakers from both parties should reach an agreement to once again raise spending caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act, as they did in 2013 and 2015.
“Unfortunately, President Trump’s budget blueprint takes us in the wrong direction, cutting even more funding for programs that support health research, environmental protection, housing programs, diplomacy initiatives and much more,” Yarmuth said at the press briefing organized by NDD United and held outside the Capitol Building.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the House Minority Whip, said the White House and the Office of Management and Budget are demonstrating “a lack of leadership.”
“That is the kind of leadership that voted to shut down the government of the United States of America [in 2013],” Hoyer said. “And the kind of leadership in OMB that voted not to open up the government of the United States of America to protect the American people,” he added, referring to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney.
Earlier this month, prior to signing an omnibus spending bill that will fund agencies through September, Trump appeared to suggest he would support a shutdown.
“Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!” Trump wrote in a tweet.
The Republican National Committee went on to follow the president’s lead. In an email to supporters, the party quoted Trump’s tweet and asked readers to vote if “Republicans should consider shutting down the government in order to prevent a terrible liberal spending bill from passing.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., specifically noted the preliminary budget’s call to eliminate 3,200 Environmental Protection Agency jobs.
"It is a cruel joke on working people,” Jayapal said.
Many elements of Trump’s proposal have been met with resistance from Democrats and Republicans alike, with key lawmakers in both parties saying some of Trump’s suggested cuts were dead on arrival. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the former appropriations chairman, said when the White House released its skinny budget in March that many of the cuts were “draconian, careless and counterproductive.”