Congressional Republicans balk at the arrival of Trump’s cruel budget

Not everyone’s on board; in fact, plenty aren’t.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The arrival of President Trump’s budget Tuesday morning on Capitol Hill is inspiring a rather tepid response from Republican lawmakers — suggesting the budget document may be too extreme for even some conservatives.

GOP leadership is already managing damage control. In fact, House Speak Paul Ryan (R-WI) reportedly warned his fellow House Republicans Tuesday morning to avoid criticizing the budget proposal. Instead, he said they should focus on finding things in the bill to praise in their public statements.

Despite Ryan’s wishes, many Republican lawmakers are expressing their reservations. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), for example, wasn’t subtle about his disinterest in Trump’s ideas.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) shared that sentiment, calling the budget “inadequate” and “illegal under current law,” and objecting specifically to the level of military funding it provides.

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), a Freedom Caucus member who has previously expressed some concerns about the budget proposal, told Fox Business on Monday that he thinks Trump’s plan for 3 percent growth is overly optimistic:

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) even suggested that the 3 percent figure was so improbable that “it makes for a make-believe debate.”

Several lawmakers told the Washington Post that they think some of the proposed budget cuts are just too much. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) called the cuts to Medicaid “draconian,” noting how hard his constituents would be hit. It’s also a violation of Trump’s campaign promises not to cut Medicaid funding. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) likewise suggested that “there will be some concerns if we go too deep in some of these areas.”

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Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) noted that there is no way the Senate would pass funding bills that match up to Trump’s goals, but offered the faint praise that the budget is a “useful debating document.” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), chair of the House Freedom Caucus, even demurred when it came to cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels. Still, he wasn’t willing to throw out the entire budget over some of his disagreements.

Some lawmakers are apparently skeptical that anyone can support Trump’s budget proposal. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said that he doesn’t even think Mick Mulvaney, who largely helped craft the budget, would vote for it if he were still in the House.

There have also been a few lawmakers who issued conspicuously neutral responses, seeming to focus on acknowledging the existence of Trump’s budget without taking any position on it.

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Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) tweeted, for instance, that Trump’s budget is “an important step” in the process and that she will be “actively engaged.”

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) noted in a similarly obvious fashion that the budget “proposes many changes” and that the Senate Appropriations Committee has “a lot of work to do in a short amount of time”:

And though Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, was optimistic about the budget, he also called it “just the start,” adding, “We must study this budget in its entirety and carefully examine it to ensure that the efficiencies and savings suggested are sustainable in the long run.”

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It seems this is also just the start of Republican lawmakers recoiling from the extreme — and possibly disastrous — cuts the Trump administration has proposed.

UPDATE: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has piled on:

And Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) has “grave concerns”: