One of Chester County’s three congressmen is speaking out against some of the proposed cuts in national spending suggested by the Trump administration’s $1.15 trillion budget.
In a statement issued Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, of West Goshen took aim at the cuts Trump says he wants to make in spending programs other than the military.
“Proposed cuts in the budget blueprint to programs that have a lasting, positive impact on our communities and that my constituents value are unacceptable to me, including those to medical research, environmental protection, and public education,” said Costello, whose district covers central and northern Chester County, as well as portions of Montgomery, Berks, and Lebanon counties.
“I remain committed to being a strong advocate for programs that deserve continued federal support, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure a thoughtful approach is taken when reviewing the budget blueprint,” he said.
Trump’s plan, unveiled Thursday, is 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 are rejecting the deep cuts to social and 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.
In his statement, Costello said that although Congress is ultimately responsible for passing the budget and he takes seriously his role of being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, he also “expressed concerns over cuts that were suggested to overall funding levels for the Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Costello said he would “be evaluating the proposed budget in its entirety in further detail to ensure spending reductions are responsibly targeted, as opposed to cutting programs he believes will benefit Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District.
He identified the proposed $500 million increase for opioid prevention and treatment, increased funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, investments to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and not adding to the national debt as priorities he shares with the administration.
Trump’s budget proposal covers discretionary spending. That’s the roughly $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.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.