The “Art of the Deal.”
Congressional negotiators reportedly agreed on a budget deal Sunday night to avert an impending government shutdown. And although the Trump administration talked a big — if confusing — game during negotiations over the past several weeks, it seems to have lost bigly.
The $1 trillion deal, which will fund the government through September, is a six-months-overdue piece of major legislation that finishes out the budget for fiscal year 2017. Last week Congress passed, and Trump signed, a one-week extension that funded the government through this Friday at midnight, so passing a broader budget bill this week is essential to avoid a shutdown. Congress goes on recess next week.
However, to keep the government open, the Trump administration had to give up, for the time being, large sections of its agenda: building Trump’s wall, defunding Planned Parenthood, and deeply cutting domestic programs, to name a few.
1. No funding for Trump’s border wall
Trump sought billions in funding a “down payment” for the wall, even though he campaigned on the claim that Mexico would pay for the wall, not U.S. taxpayers. However, there is reportedly language in the bill explicitly barring construction of a new wall along the southern border. The Democratic appropriations summary says the omnibus “does not include… funding requested by President Trump to build a border wall or fencing on areas of the U.S.-Mexico border where no fencing currently exists.”
2. No provision to defund Planned Parenthood
Trump has repeatedly promised to defund the reproductive health organization, which provides health care, screenings, and birth control to underserved communities. He signed a law this month that makes it easier for states to withhold Planned Parenthood funding. But this didn’t make it into the budget deal. The Democratic appropriations summary states that the deal contains no language defunding Planned Parenthood.
3. No drastic cuts for EPA
The bill keeps 99 percent of funding for the EPA, according to congressional aides. The Environmental Protection Agency is already underfunded, so even a 1 percent cut will be felt among its critical programs, but this represents much less than the 31 percent cut Trump has proposed for the next fiscal year. All current staff positions would be protected.
4. No funding for Trump’s deportation force
Democrats told reporters Sunday night that the deal had no funding for a “deportation force,” another incendiary policy that Trump has proposed to crack down on undocumented immigrants across the country.
5. Funding for Obamacare subsidies
Last week, Trump dropped his opposition to funding subsides for low-income Americans to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. This deal contains those subsidies. (Outside of the budget deal, however, the law is still being undermined at the agency level, and can be threatened more in the coming months even without a repeal and replace bill.)
6. $2 billion increase for the NIH
The National Institutes of Health, which conducts life-saving medical research, has been a target of Trump’s budget officials since he took office. Nonetheless, the omnibus bill would send $34.1 billion to NIH — $2 billion more than the agency currently receives, and $3.2 billion more than the Trump administration wanted for FY 2017. This includes a down-payment on the Obama-Biden administration’s cancer research “moonshot” initiative.
7. Funding for Community Development Block Grants
According to his budget proposals, Trump would prefer to wipe out this program, which provides funding for Meals on Wheels programs around the country and helps low-income people who no longer have an affordable place to live. However, the omnibus budget would provide $3 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) — the same level of funding as exists now.
8. No provision to defund sanctuary cities
Trump has famously attacked “sanctuary cities,” a term used for cities and towns that decide to not cooperate with federal efforts to arrest undocumented immigrants. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was shut down in court last week for threatening to cut funding from such jurisdictions. The omnibus does not contain any language prohibiting funds for these cities.
9. Funding for Puerto Rico
Last week, Trump drew a line in the sand on funding for Puerto Rico, currently grappling with a debt crisis:
The Democrats want to shut government if we don't bail out Puerto Rico and give billions to their insurance companies for OCare failure. NO!
He told Reuters the next day: “I don’t think that’s fair to the people of Iowa, and I don’t think it’s fair to the people of Wisconsin and Ohio and North Carolina and Pennsylvania that we should be bailing out Puerto Rico for billions and billions of dollars.”
Nonetheless, the budget deal reportedly includes $295 million for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program.
10. Half of the requested funding for the military
Trump asked for a $30 billion increase in military spending for this fiscal year, and got half of that in the current budget deal. Some in the military were reportedly concerned that Trump would not be able to fulfill his promises to add hundreds of ships, a dozen infantry battalions, and over 1,000 aircraft to “rebuild” the armed forces.
11. Less than half of the requested funding for border security
The Trump administration wanted $3 billion more for border security, and instead will get $1.2 billion under the plan. This funding would go to technology and infrastructure improvements. The Democratic appropriations summary says the agreement “does not include a statutory requirement from prior years to maintain a minimum number of detention beds” or a “longstanding statutory requirement to maintain a minimum number of detention beds.”
12. Rise in non-defense domestic spending
Trump has called for $18 billion in cuts to domestic discretionary spending, but instead will have to sign a bill that grows the size of government. Several provisions in the omnibus — including the $4.6 billion Appalachian coal miners health extension and $2 billion in disaster relief — ensure that the budget will continue to rise even separate from the defense spending. This effectively breaks Trump’s campaign promises to cut domestic spending, zero out the deficit, and shrink the debt.
13. Non-defense domestic spending to rise
The $4.6 billion Appalachian coal miners health extension, $2 billion in disaster relief, and many other provisions ensure that the budget will continue to rise even separate from the defense spending. Trump has called for $18 billion in cuts to domestic discretionary spending but instead will have to sign a bill that grows the size of government — again breaking campaign promises to shrink it, zero out the deficit, and shrink the debt.
14. No other poison pills
Even the most reasonable budget bill could be ruined by an extreme amendment unrelated to budgetary policy, called a rider or a poison pill, which have doomed budget plans in years past. There was concern that the GOP would attach policy riders to this budget deal, but according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the deal currently has none. That’s not to say that there will not be a push to attach one to the bill, but for right now, it appears to be a clean bill.
Dems contend they rejected 160 of what they call poison pill riders for gov't spending bill. Includes $12.5b defense spending increase
Freedom caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan told CBS Monday morning that he was disappointed with some of these provisions and suggested the budget deal would likely see GOP defections in the House and Senate. “Look, money goes to Planned Parenthood, money continues to go to sanctuary cities, no money for the border wall — I think you will see a lot of conservatives vote against this plan this week,” he said. Reaction from conservatives and Trump supporters on Twitter was intense as well.
If enough Democrats vote for the budget, however, congressional leaders can still pass it even if they lose support from Freedom Caucus members and conservative GOP senators.
Trump has yet to tweet since the budget deal was announced, so the president’s opinion is as yet unknown. Last week he said, “If there’s a shutdown, there’s a shutdown,” adding that he would blame Democrats if the budget fight shut down the government.
Vice President Mike Pence, however, said that Trump “signed off on the parameters” of the deal. Pence called the deal a “bipartisan win for the American people” and said “we couldn’t be more pleased.”
If there is enough of a backlash from the right, Trump still could theoretically veto the new bill, throwing the government deeper into chaos, and sending both Republican majorities back to the drawing board, trying to find the votes to pass a budget that Trump would sign. He could also sign the budget and trust that his base will still follow him onto the next fight.