President Trump on Tuesday defended the controversial $1 trillion-plus budget deal heading for a vote – as he and congressional Republicans face conservative anger at what critics see as a cave to Democrats on everything from sanctuary cities to funding for Planned Parenthood.
“The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!” Trump tweeted, adding that the solution is to elect more Republican senators in 2018 “or change the rules” of the Senate filibuster.
He added a warning shot: “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”
Republican and Democratic lawmakers made the budget deal, announced Monday, in order to fund the government through September and avoid a shutdown later this week. But despite Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House, the deal is widely perceived as benefiting Democratic interests and priorities, while sidelining some of the items on Trump’s wishlist.
Heritage Action, an outside conservative group, on Tuesday urged a “no” vote on the package, with Heritage Foundation analysts claiming it “woefully fails the test of fiscal responsibility and does not advance important conservative policies.”
The plan has no funding for Trump’s much vaunted border wall, though it includes $1.5 billion for border security.
While the deal does include an increase in military spending as requested by Trump, it does not reduce funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” – jurisdictions that refuse to comply with federal immigration law – and continues to fund abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
Non-defense spending also sees an increase, and Democrats managed to kill 160 Republican riders on issues such as environmental regulations. The deal also includes a $2 billion increase in spending for the National Institutes of Health.
At a White House ceremony to award a trophy to the Air Force football team, Trump again hailed parts of the deal, saying it secured the “single largest increase in border security funding in 10 years” and noted that it broke the Obama-era “parity rule” — that every increase in military spending must be matched by an increase in domestic spending.
“That’s not happening any more, I can tell you…you’re going to have the money we need and the equipment we need,” he said. “Our military is going to be taken care of, that I promise you.”
But Democrats reacted with glee to a supposed victory pulled out of the embers of a brutal November election defeat.
“I think we had a strategy and it worked,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in an interview with The Washington Post. “Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were closer to one another than Republicans were to Donald Trump.”
Conservatives took to media outlets and TV to express their anger, aimed particularly at congressional Republicans and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
“DEMS CELEBRATE ‘REPUBLICAN’ BUDGET!” declared the top headline on the Drudge Report Tuesday morning, accompanied by a grinning picture of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Another headline read: “MORE PAGES THAN OBAMA STIMULUS”
“We do not have a Republican Party on Capitol Hill that can get its act together,” Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday.
“I don’t know how you would carry water for this,” conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Monday. “Not that I want to; don’t misunderstand. I’m just coming up with new ways to explain what a sellout, disaster, betrayal — whatever you want to call this — it is.”
At a House GOP leadership press conference Tuesday morning, however, Speaker Ryan and other top Republicans defended the package. Ryan touted the “down payment on border security” and dismissed what he called Democrats’ “PR machine” playing up their end of the bargain.
“Don’t look at the press releases, look at the bill,” Ryan said, adding there are “a lot of conservative wins here.”
Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., touted pay raises for military service members and cuts to “areas where we’ve seen government run out of control” like the EPA.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus predicted conservative opposition in Congress.
“Money goes to Planned Parenthood, as you said. Money continues to go to sanctuary cities, but no money for the border wall,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in an interview with CNN.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of conservatives against this plan this week.”
Even before Trump’s tweets, some Republicans looked to defend the bill. They noted that Trump got the defense spending priorities he asked for, while pointing to other victories such as no new money for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program, a 50 percent increase for abstinence education, increased funding in the fight against opioid addiction, and another cut for the EPA’s budget.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted that the deal includes $1.5 billion secured for enhanced border security and detention capabilities, and called it a “down payment” on the border wall, which he reiterated is going to get built during Trump’s time in office.
“Make no mistake, the wall is going to be built,” he said. “We have five months left in this fiscal year, we’re getting $1.52 billion for border security, there’s a lot that can be done with that.”
But some conservatives say passing a bill funding Democratic priorities will hurt Republicans down the road in the 2018 midterms.
“I find this to be so demoralizing, disappointing and I think they’re going to have hell to pay for this budget,” Ingraham said.
The bill is expected to go to the House floor Wednesday, and to the Senate Thursday, ahead of the shutdown deadline on Friday.
Fox News’ John Roberts and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.