President Donald Trump unveiled his $1.15 trillion budget in the early hours of Thursday morning with pledges to increase defense spending, but many Florida lawmakers have yet to be convinced the proposal is a step in the right direction for the nation.
Defense spending would skyrocket $54 billion under the proposal for the 2018 fiscal year, while another $4.1 billion would be spent on the Mexico-U.S. border wall.
Trump called it the “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” budget, and while some Florida officials say the proposal funnels money into important priorities for the country, others have disagreed.
Here’s how Florida is reacting to Trump’s preliminary budget proposal:
Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla.
"Budgets are statements of our values as a people. The statement made today by the Trump Administration is that climate change isn’t real, our environment is not important, diplomacy is a waste of time, medical breakthroughs aren't beneficial, the poor are on their own, and the arts, despite their small price tag, aren’t of significance," said Crist. "We can make sound fiscal decisions while also having the strongest national defense in the world. The President’s budget fails to strike the appropriate balance, and it is Congress’s job to reach a more responsible conclusion. I look forward to engaging in that fight."
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.
“It is clear this budget attempts to focus on our nation's real fiscal challenges, and it is Congress' responsibility to thoroughly examine how and where we allocate the tax dollars of hard working Americans. Further, this budget request presents an opportunity to have a conversation about our national priorities and the need to address the drivers of our debt. I look forward to Congress exercising its oversight role and ultimately making funding decisions.”
Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla.
"President Trump’s budget calls for extreme cuts to vital funding for job training, clean energy, medical research, and public education. It is a short-sighted plan that seeks to give tax breaks to the wealthiest while taking away lifelines for those who need it most...While I think we need to find innovative ways to make our federal government run more efficiently and save tax payer dollars, extreme cuts that will harm America’s seniors, children, and families is not the way to do it. I believe that our national budget is a reflection of our values as a society and this does not align with the values of Florida’s fifth Congressional district, and therefore I intend to strongly oppose it.”
Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, R-Fla.
"No matter who the President is or whose party controls the White House, this budget is not considered a viable and realistic plan for spending,” Ros Lehtinen told the Miami Herald Thursday. "As the saying goes: the president proposes and the Congress disposes. This means that it is the Members of Congress who pass appropriation bills, not the president. So this presidential budget may provide for interesting discussions but it is always considered Dead On Arrival in Congress. I'm especially concerned about cuts to programs for legal aid to the poor, Meals on Wheels services for the elderly, and less resources for the protection of our precious environment."
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
“This plan doesn’t make any sense. You're going to cut some of our most important agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, which is working to find cures for cancer and Alzheimer's, the Environmental Protection Agency, which keeps our air and water clean, and the Army Corps of Engineers, which is working to restore the Everglades. I agree that we must do whatever is necessary to keep our country safe, but cutting all of these important programs to pay for things, such as a wall, just doesn’t make any sense.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“The president’s budget reflects what his administration’s priorities are. I am very encouraged that this budget supports ideas like the Educational Opportunities Act I first introduced in 2013 with the goal of expanding school choice through tax credit incentives for scholarships to low-income students. It's a promising sign that we'll be able to work with the administration on school choice policies I care deeply about because of the positive impact they can have in providing hardworking families with better school options for their kids...
“While this budget blueprint offers insights into the president’s thinking about what’s important to his administration and the American people, it is Congress that will actually set the nation’s policy priorities and fund them. I will continue to review all the details of this budget proposal for areas of common interest we can work on together.
Rubio said he did not, however, support cuts to the international affairs budget.
“These programs are integral to our national security, and cuts at these levels undermine America’s ability to keep our citizens safe. In order to advance our national security interests, economic opportunity for our people and respect for human dignity everywhere, America’s leadership on the global stage is indispensable."