President Trump speaks during a meeting Wednesday on the budget, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listens.

President Trump speaks during a meeting Wednesday on the budget, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listens. Evan Vucci/AP

Trump to Issue First Budget in Mid-March, Promising ‘A Lot More With Less’

President also signals hiring freeze may continue ‘for the American taxpayer.’

The Trump administration will deliver its first budget to Congress in mid-March, and the president confirmed Wednesday it will contain major cuts for federal agencies.

Trump “inherited a mess” from the Obama administration, the president told reporters at the top of a meeting with newly sworn-in Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, other OMB staff and additional Cabinet members and advisers. The president said his administration “is going to clean it up,” promising to “save a lot” going forward.

The fiscal 2018 blueprint will not contain all the details normally included in a White House budget, as is typical for a new administration. Still, Trump said he has directed all federal agencies to protect “every last tax dollar.” He promised not to waste any more money, including through ending improper payments and abuses.

“Our moral duty to the taxpayer requires us to make our government leaner and more accountable,” Trump said. “We must do a lot more with less.”

Trump added his government will run “smoothly and efficiently,” vowing to hold his team accountable to that end. He promoted his order to freeze federal hiring for “non-essential” positions, while appearing to suggest it could continue indefinitely.

“Part of our commitment is to continue to do that for the American taxpayer,” Trump said of the freeze. The president has asked Mulvaney and the not-yet-named director of the Office of Personnel Management to establish a long-term federal workforce attrition plan by April 22. Trump’s original memorandum said the hiring freeze would end once that plan is implemented.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the administration will deliver its budget March 13 “ish,” but declined to elaborate on any areas where it will identify cuts or spending increases. The White House is reportedly following a blueprint from the Heritage Foundation to reduce spending by $10.5 trillion over the next 10 years. That plan would eliminate entire federal programs and even some agencies, such as the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Russ Vought, a former Heritage official now working at OMB, sat in for Trump’s budget meeting Wednesday.

At the outset of that meeting, Trump vowed to boost spending for the Defense Department, which would disproportionately shift cuts onto non-Defense discretionary spending.