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Trump budget seeks $8.6 billion in new border wall funding, Kudlow says

Larry Kudlow, the White House's chief economic adviser,

Larry Kudlow, the White House's chief economic adviser, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 28. Credit: Bloomberg / Aaron P. Bernstein

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday will seek $8.6 billion in new border wall funding, while proposing a roughly 5 percent across-the-board cut in domestic spending, as part of his 2020 budget plan, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday.

Kudlow, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” described the proposal slated to be released Monday as “a tough budget.”

"It's exactly the right prescription," Kudlow said.

The proposal, which serves as a blueprint of the president’s spending priorities, must be submitted to Congress for approval. That is likely to set up another fight between Trump and a split Congress, which previously denied his $5.7 billion demand for a southern border wall. In February, Congress authorized only $1.375 billion for border security projects following a five-week government shutdown.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement Sunday warning Trump that his latest request would be rejected.

Last month, Trump issued a national emergency declaration in an attempt to redirect $3.6 billion in military construction funds to his proposed border wall, but 16 states and several advocacy groups have sued in federal court to block Trump from diverting the money. The Democratic-controlled House voted last week to revoke the emergency declaration and the GOP-controlled Senate is expected to pass a similar order by a slim margin this week, despite Trump’s public declarations that he will veto the orders.

Kudlow, when asked whether Trump’s new wall funding request would lead to another budget fight between the White House and lawmakers, said, “I suppose there will be.”

“I would just say that the whole issue of the wall, of border security, is of paramount importance,” Kudlow told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case very effectively.”

Schumer and Pelosi argued that Trump had not made the case for the wall, saying he "hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico."

"Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson," Schumer and Pelosi said, adding that the money "would better be spent on rebuilding America, and on education and workforce development for jobs for the 21st Century.”

When Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress during his first two years in office, Trump also faced resistance to portions of his budget plans, with lawmakers failing to approve his requests for increased border wall funding and infrastructure spending.

Trump’s budget plan calls for a 5 percent increase in funding for the Department of Homeland Security to be used in part to hire more than 2,800 new law enforcement officers and 100 immigration judges, according to Reuters, which first reported portions of the yet-to-be-released budget on Sunday.

Administration officials told Reuters the $8.6 billion request, combined with money allocated by Congress in January and the money Trump is looking to access via the emergency declaration, would be put toward building and repairing 722 miles of border barriers. The entire border is 1,954 miles.

As Trump gears up for his 2020 re-election effort, Kudlow acknowledged the importance of the wall to the president, whose 2016 campaign focused largely on the promise to build it. Democrats have mostly opposed the wall, describing it as “immoral” and a “medieval” solution to addressing immigration issues.

“He’s going to stay with his wall, and he’s going to stay with the border security theme,” Kudlow said.

With Scott Eidler

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