You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

AP Explains: Trump's budget not the final word on spending


President Donald Trump has proposed a $1.15 trillion budget, but it's hardly the final word on how the federal government will spend taxpayer dollars.

His budget is more of a blueprint than a binding document. The real power of the purse rests with Congress.

Already, lawmakers have found plenty to dislike: Fiscal conservatives wanted to see cuts to benefit programs, defense hawks want more military spending and Democrats reject the deep cuts to domestic programs.

That leaves Trump and his Republican majority in Congress facing weeks — if not months — of high-risk political wrangling. Failure to reach an agreement could result in a government shutdown, an outcome that cost the government and economy billions of dollars in 2013.

___

WHAT'S IN IT:

Trump's budget proposal covers discretionary spending. That's the roughly the $1 trillion portion of the $4 trillion the federal government spends that Congress must approve every year by passing specific spending legislation.

The majority of federal spending is in benefit programs, like Social Security and Medicare. Also called "entitlements" or "mandatory" programs, they can only be changed by revising the underlying laws that created them.

Trump's discretionary budget would boost Pentagon spending by $54 billion — about 10 percent — and make a down payment on his promised border wall, while cutting domestic programs and foreign aid by an equal amount.

Twelve of the government's 15 Cabinet agencies would absorb cuts under the president's proposal. The biggest losers are Agriculture, Labor, State, and the Cabinet-level EPA. The Defense Department, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs are the winners.

Congressional approval is likely to involve a tough fight.

Though many of Trump's cuts hit conservative targets, like the National Endowment for the Arts and low-income heating assistance programs, others take aim at strong congressional favorites, including medical research, rural school aid and help for homeless veterans.

___

WHAT'S NEXT:

Before lawmakers can address what to do in 2018, they have to deal with the remainder of this year.

A temporary bill that's currently funding the government expires at the end of April. To avoid a partial government shutdown on April 29, Congress must pass and Trump must sign a spending bill or, at the very least, an additional extension of current funding levels.

It may be a hard sell. With Republicans holding just 52 votes in the Senate, Democratic votes are needed to reach the 60-vote threshold for passage in the 100-member chamber. While Democrats don't want to be blamed for shutting down the government, they're also under pressure from their base to block Trump at every turn. And anything that Democrats would approve is likely to alienate the conservative Republicans in the House.

In May, Trump will present the rest of his budget. It will include the White House outlook for the economy, as well as tax proposals, and plans for reducing the deficit.

Economists say tackling the deficit would entail curbs on popular benefit programs, but Trump has repeatedly promised not to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Around the same time, Congress is likely to be working on its own budget. The congressional budget resolution has to be completed in order to accommodate Trump's promise to overhaul tax laws.

___

WHAT MAKES IT TRICKIER:

All this time, Congress must keep working on spending bills for the 2018 budget year. Known as "appropriations" bills, they deal with the roughly $1 trillion in annual spending covered by the budget that Trump released Thursday.

To avoid another government shutdown crisis, such legislation must pass by Oct. 1.

Congress does not have a good track record of meeting that deadline. Usually what happens is that leaders convene budget talks to avoid a shutdown.

That happened repeatedly during former President Barack Obama's administration. It's usually resolved by passing a "continuing resolution" that maintains funding at current levels and avoids a partial shutdown of government operations.

But partisanship can also get in the way, precipitating a crisis.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Gov. Scott cites London fire in vetoing Florida condo bill
Gov. Scott cites London fire in vetoing Florida condo bill

Pointing to a high-rise fire in London that killed dozens of residents, Florida Gov. Rick Scott late Monday vetoed a bill that would have eased fire-protection requirements for older condominium buildings in the state. The bill (HB 653), which passed the Legislature with only one dissenting vote, dealt with requirements for retrofitting high-rise condominium...
Monday bill actions by Scott closes book on 2017 legislation
Monday bill actions by Scott closes book on 2017 legislation

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed 29 bills late Monday, including measures boosting spending on education, tourism marketing and economic development. By signing the bills, and vetoing five more, Scott essentially closed the books on this year’s regular and special legislative sessions. RELATED: Read The Post’s 2017 Florida Legislature coverage...
Short on votes, Senate Republicans delay vote on GOP health bill
Short on votes, Senate Republicans delay vote on GOP health bill

Unable to muster enough votes, Republican leaders in the Senate said on Tuesday that they would not force a final vote on a GOP health care bill this week, trying to get extra time to negotiate a plan which could win the backing of 50 Republican Senators, as a vote seemed like to slip into the month of July. “It&rsquo...
Why Gov. Rick Scott isn’t meeting with Sen. Bill Nelson in Washington
Why Gov. Rick Scott isn’t meeting with Sen. Bill Nelson in Washington

Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Washington, D.C., today. WASHINGTON — Florida Gov. Rick Scott‘s schedule here today includes meetings with Vice President Mike Pence and at least five senators, including Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, to discuss the Senate health care bill. But the governor...
Health care: Rick Scott in Washington, Florida House and Senate staffers embedded with Rubio
Health care: Rick Scott in Washington, Florida House and Senate staffers embedded with Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio says he wants Florida input and Gov. Rick Scott says he’ll “fight for Florida” as the Senate considers a health care bill. WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott is here today after pledging last week to “fight for Florida” on the Senate health care bill. And he&rsquo...
More Stories