INTERNATIONAL: Trump’s $1.1 Trillion Budget Makes Dramatic Cuts to Federal Government

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(NBC News) The White House is putting its “America First” agenda front and center, unveiling a budget Thursday that pumps $54 billion more into the Pentagon and protecting the nation’s borders, while sharply slashing domestic and discretionary spending.

The $1.1 trillion budget proposal sent to Congress represents a significant rollback of the federal workforce and imposes deep and dramatic cuts, with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Agriculture Department and the State Department taking the biggest hits.

While military spending gets a boost, one of Trump’s other campaign promises is seeing a tangible first step toward realisation: The budget puts $1.5 billion toward building a wall on the border with Mexico, with $2.6 billion more allocated for the project in the following fiscal year.

“A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority — because without safety, there can be no prosperity,” Trump said in a message for his budget, titled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.”

The EPA would lose about 31 percent in funding, or $2.6 billion; Agriculture would lose nearly 21 percent, or $4.7 billion, and the State would be down 28 percent, or $10 billion.

In addition, foreign aid would be reduced along with money that goes toward the United Nations and other multilateral development banks.

Other programs, from medical research to the arts, would also lose a significant chunk — if not all — of their federal funding. The budget proposal eliminates funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, legal aid for the poor and low-income heating assistance, among other services.

While such a move is in line with what conservative lawmakers have been pressing for as a way to rein in the deficit and overhaul spending, other proposals in the document are certain to find push back, particularly from Democrats.

“Once again the Trump administration is showing its true colors: talk like a populist but govern like a special interests zealot,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, said in a statement, adding, “The very programs that most help the middle class are those that get clobbered the hardest: investments in infrastructure, education, scientific research that leads to cures for diseases all take big hits.”

Trump’s proposed budget would not take effect until the new fiscal year in October, but Democrats this week have already threatened to stage a government shutdown if a border wall and other far-right policy proposals are included in the document.

This budget does not account for taxes and entitlement programs, which will be addressed in a broader budget due in the spring.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Wednesday warned in a preview that the cuts would feature a “hard-power budget.”

Trump touted the proposed cuts at a rally Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, saying his budget “will shrink the bloated federal bureaucracy — and I mean bloated.”

The hit to the State Department budget has spurred critics who say it’s another example of the diplomatic agency being sidelined in a Trump administration. Still, Mulvaney said he believes the “core diplomatic function” of the department remains intact.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he welcomed Trump’s budget after the past eight years under President Barack Obama.

“We are determined to work with the administration to shrink the size of government, grow our economy, secure our borders, and ensure our troops have the tools necessary to complete their missions,” Ryan said in a statement.

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