President Donald Trump is continuing his effort to bend the United States government to his will. This week — more than a month after legislation demanded the document be submitted — the White House unveiled their budget proposal for the next fiscal year including a slash to funding for the National Science Foundation by about $1 billion. The agency covers government-funded research in a range of non-medical fields and is responsible for about one-fourth of all federal research grants.
The proposed cut is deeply ironic considering how vehemently Trump has pushed for billions of dollars for his long-sought border wall blocking off Mexico. After failing in his efforts to procure over $5 billion from Congress, he signed a national emergency declaration in an attempt to use subsequent executive authority to redirect already appropriated government funds to the wall, although that effort immediately hit legal hurdles.
There is no basis for Trump’s claim that the wall is needed because of a supposed vast criminal network among undocumented immigrants, which he insists is out there despite data evidence from his own administration to the contrary. Still, he refused to back down from his demands for border wall funding to the point of putting the federal government through what turned out to be the longest shutdown in U.S. history because he wouldn’t approve any funding without it.
In contrast, his team has no problem dumping a billion dollars in funding for actual, tangible scientific research that has consistently been on the world’s cutting edge, involving over 200 eventual Nobel Prize winners.
The proposed 12 percent cut in NSF funding comes alongside other, at this point familiar proposed budget cuts from the Trump administration, like $845 billion that would be stripped from Medicare — the first time that the current president has targeted the public health program. Like before, the president also targeted the budgets at agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, Transportation Department, and Interior Department.
Remarkably, the budget proposal includes a push for a further full $8.6 billion in funding for Trump’s long-sought wall, which has struggled to materialize in any form whatsoever despite his years of promises that he’d get it constructed. That last point could mean another budget showdown with Congress is on the horizon like the one that culminated in the shutdown that rocked the government and hundreds of thousands of government workers as this year got underway.
Democratic leaders House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) were blunt, offering:
‘President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico. Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson.’
Congress is currently working on overturning the president’s national emergency declaration, but neither chamber has a veto-proof majority to protect their cancellation measure from the president’s refusal to go along with it.
Congress has already established in the Trump presidency that they have no particular interest in following after every little detail of the administration’s budget proposals, even when Republicans were in charge. Overall, the latest proposal calls for an increase of tens of billions of dollars in defense spending and a similar decrease in nondefense, domestic spending, all of which Democrats have rejected.
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