WASHINGTON – Members of West Virginia’s legislative delegation are expressing concerns about President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal.
Trump's first budget request to Congress proposes to cut $3.6 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years while making major increases in defense spending and border security. It includes cuts to Medicaid, farm programs and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Sen. Joe Manchin, the lone Democrat representing the Mountain State in Washington, says he’ll carefully scrutinize the plan as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He also said he will pay particular attention to how the budget would affect West Virginians.
“While the President’s proposed budget includes critical funding and many important policy changes, such as funding to fight the opioid epidemic in this country and infrastructure spending, it falls short of the big fix that this country needs,” Manchin said in a press release. “The proposal, which cuts $274 billion in spending, will balance the budget in 10 years but at the cost of not helping our most vulnerable Americans and many West Virginians.
“My grandmother, Mama Kay, was always helping our neighbors and taught to us to help others. She was constantly taking in people who were down on their luck and gave them a hand up, not a hand out. That’s what we should be doing for our fellow citizens.”
Manchin said he hopes to see work on the budget move quickly.
“In the coming weeks, a budget must be negotiated by first bringing all parties to the table, where we should focus on an open and honest discussion of the choices we must make as a nation,” he said. “As I have done throughout my career, I am willing to work with anyone from any party to set our priorities, cut waste and redundancy, and rein in out-of-control spending.
“And, while no single Senator, Representative or even President can be expected to have all the answers, we as a nation just can’t afford months of political posturing that will delay the hard work the American people demand of us. I am hopeful that, when we come together, we will craft a budget proposal that reflects a true bipartisan agreement that puts commonsense priorities for Americans and West Virginians first.”
Sen. Shelly Moore Capito expressed similar sentiments.
“The president’s budget proposal lays out the administration’s priorities,” she said. “However, it’s ultimately up to Congress to determine how we will fund the government and where to allocate our limited resources.
“While I am pleased the administration has proposed funding to continue certain programs like those within the Office of National Drug Control Policy, I also have serious concerns about how the proposed cuts would affect West Virginians and others across the country. In the coming months, I will use my leadership role on the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure programs and projects important to West Virginians are funded at adequate levels.”
Rep. Evan Jenkins, who serves the state’s Third District, agreed with the senators.
“While I appreciate the president’s aim to cut wasteful spending, this budget goes too far in critical areas for West Virginia,” Jenkins said. “The proposed cuts to our safety net programs, including Medicaid and SNAP, would hurt too many of our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and I cannot support this budget proposal.
“The budget also proposes eliminating programs crucial to West Virginia’s economic development and diversification – the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration. We need to do more to attract new industries to our coalfields and invest in our infrastructure, and these two programs have a track record of success in West Virginia.
“As our state struggles to recover from eight years of devastating economic policies, we cannot make harsh cuts to these programs while our families are getting back on their feet.
“I do, however, appreciate that the White House heard my concerns and restored funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other anti-drug trafficking programs. I urged the White House to reconsider eliminating these programs, and I am glad to see they stopped these devastating cuts.
“The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, and the House Appropriations Committee will start work soon on next year’s funding bills. As a member of that committee, I will fight for West Virginia’s priorities and make sure the bills include funding for vital programs for our state.”