The first challenge of the 2018 Congress will be simply funding the government for another year. So far, Congress has used continuing resolutions to prevent a government shutdown during the Christmas season, now with the holidays gone there is no reason for Republicans to miss their chance to cut spending and fuel economic growth. After historic tax cuts, passing a conservative budget is exactly what Congress needs to keep their momentum.
The budget is an essential opportunity for Congress to keep their promise to be fiscally responsible. From the President’s proposed budget to the omnibus passed through the House, Republicans have already vowed to reduce spending; the question is whether they will be able to mobilize the party to vote in favor of steep spending cuts in the final bill.
The House omnibus bill significantly rolled back the powers of the federal government by defunding overreaching agency rules such as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing and sections of the Endangered Species Act which gave the federal government control over local land.
The bill also included about $1.5 billion in funds to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the border wall Trump promised during the campaign. The bill also prevents sanctuary cities, which openly choose to defy federal immigration law, from receiving significant federal funds.
In May, President Trump proposed a spending plan that effectively reduced the size of government and balanced the federal budget. This includes $4.5 trillion in total spending cuts, with $1.8 trillion in cuts to non-defense discretionary funds.
The president’s budget takes critical steps to reduce the scope of the federal government. There is $1 trillion of cuts over 10 years to so-called mandatory spending programs including grants across every department: $143 billion of cuts at the Department of Education, $46 billion at the Department of Agriculture, $29.6 billion from the Department of Energy, $16.8 billion from the Department of Homeland Security, $5.7 billion from the Department of Interior, $21.6 billion from the Department of Labor, $49.6 billion from the Department of Transportation, $15.2 billion from the Department of Veterans Affairs, $46 billion from the Postal Service, $62.9 billion from the Office of Personnel Management, $190 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, eliminating $142.2 billion of improper payments across the government, cutting $55 billion by reforming the medical liability system and reducing $35 billion from government financial bailout funds.
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to reduce the federal workforce; his budget suggests steps to “to reorganize agencies and reduce the Federal workforce to begin the work of creating a leaner, more accountable, less intrusive, and more effective Government.”
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning suggested a 10 percent cut to federal employees; this will allow the President to regain control over the growing bureaucracy and restore order.
With the continuing resolution extending the previous year’s government funding expiring to January 19, creating a budget the House, the Senate, and the President can agree on will be the first major challenge of the year.
This week President Trump blasted Democrats on Twitter, noting “Democrats are doing nothing for DACA — just interested in politics.” President Trump kicked the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy back to Congress after President Obama’s illegal implementation.
The President has agreed to compromise with the policy’s inclusion in the 2018 spending bill, and encouraged it, but only if it is coupled with increased border wall spending and the end of chain migration; without this, it will be a compromise for near amnesty lost to the Democrats, if Democrats refuse this compromise, it will be their fault for failing DACA as Trump has said.
The fight for spending cuts is underway, and Republicans must band together to hold their ground against pressure from Democrats. The House omnibus bill and the President’s proposed budget are a significant step toward limiting government and restoring fiscal responsibilities, with the New Year having just begun and the continuing resolution deadline quickly approaching, all other Republicans must be on the same page to pass a budget that gets the nation’s fiscal house in order.