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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

McMorris Rodgers: Trump budget ‘just a proposal’

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. walks into the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal is just a blueprint of his priorities that Congress doesn’t have to follow, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said Tuesday morning. Congress can, and likely will, come up with a very different plan.

“Congress exercises the power of the purse,” the Spokane Republican said about an hour after Trump’s budget was released. “We’re reviewing all of this.”

Washington Democrats were more critical. Sen. Patty Murray called the proposed cuts to health care, education and jobs programs “draconian.” Sen. Maria Cantwell called proposed cuts to renewable and clean energy programs “staggering.”

McMorris Rodgers said she still was studying the budget proposal and its details. She wants to review the work requirements connected to the proposed 29 percent cut in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

But she knows there are some items she opposes. Trump is proposing eliminating Community Development Block Grants, federal money that goes to cities and counties for a wide range of projects. McMorris Rodgers supports that program.

She’s also concerned about his plan to cut off money for the National Institutes of Health, which makes the nation a leader in finding medical cures. But, she noted, Trump’s efforts to cut funding for the NIH in the continuing resolution that provides federal funding for programs through September met with bipartisan opposition, and the agency was included in that spending plan.

Trump was elected to shake up the federal government and its programs and processes, she said. His budget proposal is an example of that but it’s still “just a proposal.”

The federal budget program is broken and needs an overhaul, McMorris Rodgers said. Congress should review all federal spending and consider “zero-based budgeting,” a process in which all agencies start with no money and all expenses are justified each year.

Murray said the budget breaks Trump’s campaign promises to workers and families while giving tax cuts to the wealthy and suggests Republicans should do what they did to his last budget request: “Ignore it and work with Democrats to invest in our workers, students, families and the economy.”

It would eliminate transportation programs despite Trump’s campaign talk of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and increasing jobs, Murray said. It would make deep cuts in the Department of Energy, reduce money for Hanford cleanup and eliminate programs for salmon recovery and cleaning up the Puget Sound.

It also cuts school programs to provide money for an “extreme privatization agenda” that includes vouchers for private schools, she said.

On the Senate floor Tuesday, Cantwell said proposed cuts to Medicaid, which are in line with health care legislation approved by the House, will hurt children, seniors and the disabled. “Medicaid is a lifeline for people who can’t get covered or can’t get a fair deal,” she said.