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McConnell Ready To Betray Trump on Spending

Federal debt
The Hill
reports President Trump is on a collision course with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over whether to work with Democrats on a spending bill.

According to The Hill, Trump agreed to allow GOP leadership to take some time to try and work out a spending agreement with Democrats, but said he did not want the talks to last a full year and he does not want a deal that increases spending or the deficit. McConnell is looking to pass a regular spending bill, rather than the continuing resolutions that Congress has settled on in the past.

McConnell wants to avoid a yearlong stopgap measure that would freeze 2019 funding levels because this would prevent appropriators from shifting funds around to various priorities as they see fit, President Trump, on the other hand wants to hold the line on domestic spending and increase spending at the Pentagon to rebuild the military. 

The Hill notes that working with Democrats will likely mean Trump will have to agree to increase spending before he runs for reelection in 2020, a move that would likely hurt his campaign with conservatives.

“McConnell says, ‘Let me start negotiations, I can get a good deal,’ and the president says, ‘Let’s see what happens,’ but it turns out they’re nowhere close to deal. It’s the end of April and they’re nowhere close to a deal,” an unnamed GOP source told The Hill.

The Hill reports White House officials are leery of where the talks may lead, noting that the last bipartisan deal reached in early 2018 boosted spending by $300 billion over two years.

Trump later said he was “unhappy” with the resulting $1.3 trillion legislation and that he would “never sign another bill like this again.”

Russ Vought, the acting White House budget director, told Senate and House negotiators at a meeting last week that Trump would be willing to sign a long-term CR that would freeze funding at fiscal 2019 levels if there isn’t progress from congressional leaders soon.

A congressional source familiar with the meeting said Vought indicated that the White House is leaning in favor of a yearlong stopgap spending measure instead of a broader bipartisan spending deal, reported The Hill.

A second congressional source familiar with the White House budget office’s position told The Hill that Vought has indicated he expects Congress to pass a CR as well as supplemental defense legislation to help meet Trump’s goal of strengthening the military. 

The Trump team has already formally proposed allowing the 2011 Budget Control Act caps to kick in for 2020. To provide more money to the Pentagon, he has proposed adding $96 billion through the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which is not subject to statutory spending limits.

But McConnell, whose idea the whole sequestration process was to begin with, is opposed to letting the caps kick-in.

The GOP leader previewed his strategy before the April recess, saying the only way to negotiate “a rational spending cap bill is in the political center.”

“We have to do it because the country will suffer either through a CR or, even worse, a sequester if we don’t do it,” he said.

So, to help everyone get this straight, what Mitch McConnell is saying is the whole country will “suffer” through a policy he – McConnell – put in place back in 2011 in lieu of the Cut, Cap and Balance plan conservatives proposed and could have passed had he – McConnell – not torpedoed it.

Conservative policy experts are urging Trump not to trust McConnell and Pelosi to put together a spending deal that wouldn’t blow up the deficit.

“Quite frankly I don’t know what Trump would trust McConnell to negotiate. Trump said from the outset he doesn’t want a [spending] caps deal and McConnell’s first instinct is to say, ‘OK, we’re getting a caps deal,’” Rachel Bovard, the senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute told Alexander Bolton of The Hill.

We agree, we urge CHQ readers and friends to contact the White House through this link. Tell President Trump not to trust Mitch McConnell to hold the line on spending.

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