Trump's plan would cut $54B from the domestic budget in order to increase military spending.
Bipartisan agreement can be hard to come by in this age of heightened political polarization, but both Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) and Sen. John Hoeven (R) have questions about President Trump’s newly unveiled budget.
Hoeven issued a statement Thursday that pointed to concerns about cuts to the Agriculture Department to the tune of a 21 percent reduction in funding.
“The president’s proposed budget reduction for agriculture does not work,” Hoeven said in the statement. “Given the challenging times in the farm patch – from low commodity prices to natural disasters – we need to prioritize and maintain our agriculture budget.”
Hoeven did, however, praise Trump’s plan to increase military spending, though not at the expense of farmers and ranchers.
“Additionally, it is unfair to the nation’s farmers and ranchers to require additional savings after the current farm bill reduced spending,” Hoeven said. “When passed in 2014, the farm bill was calculated to save more than $23 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the farm bill will actually save $104 billion over 10 years.”
Hoeven serves as the chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
Heitkamp had a harsh assessment of Trump’s budget proposal, agreeing with Hoeven about cuts to rural development programs and agriculture funding.
She also pointed out that the budget threatens air travel in small North Dakota cities like Devils Lake.
“The budget would also end a federal program that guarantees affordable air travel in rural communities, which helped Devils Lake’s airport board a record-breaking 6,290 passengers last year,” Heitkamp said in a statement. “Each year, that program invests $4.2 million in Dickinson’s airport, $4 million in Devils Lake’s and $2.8 million in Jamestown’s.”
Heitkamp’s office also released statistics related to Devils Lake air travel, which revealed that air travel to the Devils Lake and Jamestown areas brought $2.1 million from visitors to the area in 2015 – as well as supporting 209 jobs in the state. Since 2016, ridership to Jamestown has increased by almost 40 percent, and travelers to Devils Lake have increased by almost 56 percent.
In Trump’s proposal, the Agriculture Department budget would fall to $17.9B from $22.6B. $95M would be cut from the Rural Business and Cooperative Service, while $200M would be cut from the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition assistance program.
The budget proposal will almost certainly go through many iterations before Congress approves a budget later this year.