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Home | Tag Archives: trump budget

Tag Archives: trump budget

Congress Passes $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill that Includes Some Border Wall Funding

WASHINGTON — Congress took a major step on Thursday to keep the federal government’s doors open through the end of September, passing a massive spending bill that includes some funding for a border wall.

The $1.3 trillion measure, which lawmakers scrambled to pass ahead of a government shutdown deadline Friday night, was on its way to President Donald Trump after the U.S. Senate passed it late Thursday on a vote of 65-32. The new spending restores funding on many of the austerity measures Republicans implemented since taking over the U.S. House in 2011.

As such, it is expected to further increase the ever-ballooning federal deficit.

The bill will boost spending on various projects, including infrastructure and a border wall. The $1.6 billion allocated for a wall fell far short of the Trump administration’s demands, and Democrats were able to exact significant restrictions on the wall’s construction, including avoiding building it in a wildlife preserve and blocking any construction of the barrier as a solid concrete wall.

Earlier Thursday, the House passed the bill on a vote of 256-167. Most Texas Republicans fell in line with their leadership on the bill, but a handful from the conservative wing of the party voted against it: U.S. Reps. Brian Babin of Woodville, Joe Barton of Ennis, Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi, Louie Gohmert of Tyler, Ted Poe of Humble and John Ratcliffe of Heath.

Five Texas Democrats backed the bill: U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Al Green of Houston, Gene Green of Houston, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Beto O’Rourke of El Paso. Six other Democrats voted against the legislation: U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Lloyd Doggett of Austin, Vicente Gonzalezof McAllen, Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and Filemon Vela of Brownsville.

There are no provisions in the legislation to address extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which was a major issue for many Texas Democrats. The Obama-era program, which Trump has made efforts to end, affects about 124,000 Texans, allowing them to remain in the country and work without the immediate threat of deportation.

Additionally, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, expressed frustration earlier in the week to The Texas Tribune that legislation he supported that would overhaul Congress’ sexual harassment policies was not included in the bill.

But two Texans in particular were big winners with the legislation: U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon.

Cornyn spent the last several months pushing policy that would enhance the federal background check system for purchasing firearms. He successfully attached the measure onto the spending bill earlier this week.

Thornberry, the U.S. House Armed Services Committee chairman, is one of the fiercest advocates for increased military spending. The bill approved Thursday includes a 10 percent increase in Pentagon funding from the last fiscal year.

“The bill we’re about to vote on turns the corner in fixing our planes and ships and readiness,” Thornberry said ahead of the vote Thursday. “And it also sends a very strong message to allies and adversaries alike that the United States is going to stand up and defend ourselves.”

While the midterms are still seven months out, this bill is considered one of the last significant bills Congress will address before the coming elections.

Read related Tribune coverage:

Author: ABBY LIVINGSTON – The Texas Tribune

Trump Budget Cuts Would hit Texas Education Service Programs Hard

President Trump’s proposed budget would cut about $14 million from Texas programs designed to provide tutoring, mentorship and counseling for low-income students.

Mary Ellen Isaacs looks at the Trump Administration’s proposed budget and sees no federally-funded tutors for the 2,000 Austin students who pass through the Literacy First program for extra reading help each year.

Isaacs, the director of the program, placed about 106 AmeriCorps volunteers to tutor in low-income Austin schools this year, and received about $12,900 per full-time volunteer. Next year, she might not see any of that money.

The Trump Administration Thursday released its proposed federal budget, which would eliminate funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that deploys volunteers across the country to staff service programs in underserved communities.

Among the major programs the Corporation for National and Community Service runs is AmeriCorps, which funds more than 80,000 volunteers nationwide every year.

The funding cuts might not slash those programs entirely in Texas, but advocates say it will make it more difficult to provide their tutoring, mentorship and other education services for Texas students.

“There are options,” Isaacs said. But without the money to support volunteers, “all of the programs would need to rethink and tweak how the program is delivered. We’d be hard pressed to serve the same number of kids, at least immediately.”

Texas received $14 million in federal AmeriCorps grants in 2016-17, which funds 2,414 AmeriCorps volunteers to work with 28 schools and non-profits at 500 sites. The organizations are required to raise their own share of money to support the program; in 2016-17 they raised about $31 million in local match funding.

Most of the money goes to education programs, said Elizabeth Darling, CEO of OneStar Foundation, which administers AmeriCorps in Texas.

“Overall, I feel that it would definitely reduce many of those programs,” she said. “It shouldn’t eliminate them because we’re never the sole funder.”

For Communities in Schools in Central Texas, that means less capacity to provide mentorship, community resources, and counseling services year round in six school districts.

The federal money gives students help “to get them across the finish line. Schools don’t have resources to work one-on-one, or small group,” said Suki Steinhauser, CEO of the organization.

Trump’s preliminary budget eliminates funding for 19 other agencies, and cuts funding from many departments, including the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, Agriculture Department and Education Department.

“Consistent with the President’s approach to move the nation toward fiscal responsibility, the budget eliminates and reduces hundreds of programs and focuses funding to redefine the proper role of the federal government,” reads a document of budgetary priorities the White House said in a written statement released Thursday.

Author:  ALIYYA SWABY – The Texas Tribune

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