Agency Secretaries Resist Budget Cuts

As federal agency heads move to implement President Trump’s FY2018 budget blueprint, some recent comments from agency directors indicate there may be attempts to reverse what some seem to see as poorly targeted or overly drastic cuts to important priorities.

Last week, during a hearing in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, David Shulkin, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), told the Committee it had become clear that proposed VA cuts would hurt veterans. According to Shulkin, “What I'd like to say is that this is part of a process. We have to be looking at ways to do things better, but I am not going to support policies that hurt veterans.”

New Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stated in testimony last week that the established research levels in the Department of Agriculture’s budget was “one of those areas where we may have missed the mark,” responding affirmatively whether he would support conservation efforts “notwithstanding the president’s budget.”

Similarly, Transportation Secretary Ellen Chao said she would “respond to the will of Congress” on budget matters, and Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Department of Interior, called the proposed budget “a starting point.”

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have also been skeptical of the budget blueprint. In May, Rep. John Yarmuth, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said “The president’s budget has never been the starting point for anything as long as I’ve been here. I don’t think there’s much chance of this budget going anywhere based on how Republicans talked about the skinny budget.”

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee seemed to echo this sentiment in a recent hearing, telling Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of the proposed 29 percent cut to his agency’s budget, “I think you know that the budget that’s been presented is not going to be the budget we’re going to deal with. It’s just not.”

The budget proposal has also faced criticisms from economists who note that the plan is predicated on the United States economy growing faster than it’s actually projected to grow, as well as assuming future spending reductions that Congress is not likely to approve.



Posted in General News

Tags: Transportation, mass transportation, infrastructure



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