A Surprise Winner in the $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill

A Surprise Winner in the $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill


President Trump had plenty of complaints about the massive spending package Congress sent him last week, at one point even threatening to veto the bill before finally signing it into law on Friday afternoon.

Politico’s Michael Grunwald wrote that Trump’s irritation was in some ways understandable, given that the omnibus bill funded so many programs that were important to President Obama, while largely ignoring the deep budget cuts called for by the current administration. None of the agencies or programs that were targeted by Trump’s budget proposal from a year ago were eliminated, Grunwald said, while the spending package “not only protects Obama’s priorities, it expands them.”
Here’s are some illustrative examples from the spending bill signed last week:

  • Nonmilitary spending is up $63 billion from last year; President Trump had proposed $54 billion less.
  • Funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, an Obama infrastructure initiative, was tripled; the Trump budget called for its elimination.
  • The Community Development Block Grant received a 10 percent boost, to $3.3 billion; Trump had called for the program’s elimination.
  • The renewables budget at the Department of Energy got a 14 percent increase; Trump had wanted to cut it by 65 percent.
  • Research and innovation funding rose 12.8 percent, to the highest inflation-adjusted level ever; Trump had called for the largest cuts in history.

Not every budget item went the Democrat’s way. The omnibus does cut funding for some agencies and programs, although Congress reduced the severity of many of those cuts. For example, Trump wanted to cut funding for the State Department by 25 percent, while lawmakers limited that reduction to 6 percent. And there are plenty of issues that are still sore points for Democrats, including the inability to make headway on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to protect immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as minors.
Even so, the resilience of the Obama administration’s funding priorities was remarkable, and Trump wasn’t the only one who noticed the odd mix of spending coming out of a Republican-controlled Congress. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky told Fox News Thursday, “This could have been written by President Obama and liberal Democrats.”

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Chuck Schumer largely agreed, saying, “This spending agreement brings the era of austerity to an unceremonious end and represents one of the most significant investments in the middle class in recent history.”

The Atlantic’s Russell Berman described the situation this way: “President Obama finally got a Republican-controlled Congress to fund his domestic budget. All it took was Donald Trump in the White House to get it done.”