Here's what the Trump White House wants to cut to fund his border wall, military spending spree

The suggested cuts are not official White House proposals, but they suggest the thrust of administration thinking

Matthew Rozsa
March 28, 2017 8:35PM (UTC)

On the same day that Department of Homeland Security justification documents were reported that indicate President Donald Trump wants nearly $1 billion to pay for his proposed border wall, the White House has sent a list of $18 billion worth of suggested spending cuts to Capitol Hill.

The cuts are wide-ranging but include programs like medical research, community development grants, and building new roads and bridges, according to a report by The New York Times. Because the list of suggested cuts are not being presented as official administration proposals but rather as "options" for congressional Republicans, they tell us more about where Trump would like to cut spending in order to pay for his border wall and Pentagon spending increases — as well as the fact that the administration is flexible in its approach to what it cuts.


These suggestions have been sent as Congress continues work on $1.1 trillion in incomplete spending bills that, if left unaddressed, could result in a government shutdown on April 28. This would be particularly if Senate Democrats choose to filibuster language that explicitly finances Trump's proposed border wall (which they have promised to do), as well as if many of the more draconian cuts included in the new suggestions remain in place.

The largest cut would occur in the Senate's Labor-Health and Human Services-Education subcommittee, which would see a $7.26 billion reduction to its budget primarily by cutting grant funding (such as mental health program and spending to the National Institutes of Health) and by eliminating programs like AmeriCorps. The next largest cut would be to the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, including peacekeeping and foreign aid programs.

Other suggested spending cuts include:

  • Department of Housing and Urban Development: $1.68 billion
  • National Institutes of Health research grants: $1.2 billion
  • Department of Agriculture: More than $1 billion
  • TIGER grants (which fund transportation projects): $500 million
  • Heat subsidies for low-income Americans: $372 million
  • Environmental Protection Agency: $247 million
  • McGovern-Dole International Food Program (which feeds millions of schoolchildren throughout the world): Entirely eliminated
  • Trump's proposal may be little more than just a wish list, though.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri told The New York Times that, when it comes to Trump's proposed border wall being paid for in the larger spending package, "they will not pass together. That's just my view."
He added, "There is no path to put a supplemental (wall) as currently described on that package."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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