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Pressed by conservatives, White House eyes spending cut plan

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservatives weren’t happy with the $1.3 trillion spending bill President Donald Trump signed in March, and they’ve pressed for cuts ever since.

Now, the White House is finalizing a package of modest cuts — $10 billion-plus — in response.

Republican aides familiar with the emerging spending reductions said the cuts won’t come from the hard-won catchall measure that had averted a government shutdown, but instead will draw from money left over from previous years. Unspent dollars from disaster aid accounts are likely to make up about half the projected total.

The GOP aides spoke on condition about the developments because the spending cut plan hasn’t been finalized. It’s expected to be delivered to lawmakers early next week.

The proposal, which would require congressional approval, is largely a project of White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and the second-ranking House Republican, California’s Kevin McCarthy, who hopes to make the jump to speaker if Republicans retain House control after the November election.

The measure would face an uphill road on Capitol Hill, especially in the Senate. Even though Democrats cannot filibuster the measure under the chamber’s rules, Republicans control the Senate by just a 51-49 margin, and a single GOP defection could sink it if all Democrats are opposed.

The first steps will come in the House, however, where many tea party lawmakers opposed the $1.3 trillion spending bill, which addressed many Democratic priorities but gave scant resources to Trump’s oft-promised wall along the U.S-Mexico border.

Early discussions on the spending cut package turned off GOP moderates and some Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee who immediately signaled they would oppose any effort to rewrite the March spending deal.

The result is a pared-back plan.

“It’s about ways that you can find savings and actually have things move through without the (Democrats) stopping everything in the Senate,” McCarthy said last week.

In Capitol Hill testimony last month, Mulvaney said the administration was preparing to propose additional cuts. Subsequent proposals probably would target foreign aid accounts and the big spending bill Trump had signed.

Such follow-up proposals seem less likely to find a warm reception with lawmakers.

“You know we just finished Congress-wide bargaining of spending for the year,” said Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “We made commitments to (Democrats) and they made commitments to us.”

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