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Lindsey Graham: Trump Budget ‘Dead on Arrival’ in Congress

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 2/28/2017 Gabrielle Levy
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) walks to the Senate Chamber for a vote Feb. 7, 2017 in Washington, DC.: President Donald Trump's proposed budget is set to hit a brick wall in Congress, where Sen. Lindsey Graham called it "dead on arrival." © (Mark Wilson/Getty Images) President Donald Trump's proposed budget is set to hit a brick wall in Congress, where Sen. Lindsey Graham called it "dead on arrival."

President Donald Trump's proposed budget is set to hit a brick wall in Congress, where some Republican lawmakers say the proposed cuts to foreign aid are out of the question.

"It's dead on arrival – It's not going to happen," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., according to NBC News. "It would be a disaster."

"If you take soft power off the table then you're never going to win the war," Graham continued. "What's most disturbing about the cut in the State Department's budget, it shows a lack of understanding what it takes to win the war."

Trump's budget, a blueprint meant to guide Congress toward administration priorities as lawmakers begin to piece together spending bills ahead of the upcoming fiscal year deadline, proposes an increase of $54 billion for military spending – about 10 percent over current levels. To pay for that increase, the budget proposes slashing about $50 billion at the State Department as well as the entire budget for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which administers civilian foreign aid programs.

The deep cuts to the diplomatic budget, let alone major decreases in domestic spending, set off predictable alarm bells among Democrats, who typically object to reducing funding for domestic programs.

But resistance from the likes of Graham, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., could keep Trump from getting Congress to agree on his budget priorities.

"Foreign Aid is not charity," Rubio tweeted. "We must make sure it is well spent, but it is less than 1% of budget & critical to our national security."

"The diplomatic portion of the federal budget is very important," McConnell told reporters Tuesday, according to The Hill. "I'm not in favor of cutting what we call the 150 account by that amount."

"A budget this lean would put those who serve overseas for the State Department at risk," Graham said. "And it's not going to happen."

The White House proposal also met disapproval from the top Republicans on both the House and Senate Armed Service committees.

House Armed Services Chairman Mack Thornberry said restoring military funding to their pre-Obama administration levels would not "repair all of the damage done by those cuts in a single year, [but] we can and should do more than this level of funding would allow."

Sen. John McCain said Trump's proposed budget would leave "our military underfunded, undersized and unread to confront threats to our national security."

"With a world on fire, America cannot secure peace through strength with just three percent more than President Obama's budget," McCain said in a statement, calling for a defense budget of $640 billion, an increase of $91 billion over last year. "We can and must do better."

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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