Maryland’s lawmakers are not please with the proposed budget released this week by the White House, saying it could have dire consequences for the Chesapeake Bay, the National Institutes of Health, public television and other parts of the state.
A breakdown from Capital News Service notes Trump’s budget, if approved by Congress, would eliminate all but $5 million of the $73 million in federal funding that goes to six states, the District of Columbia and nonprofits for cleanup programs in the bay. It would cut $3 million for Maryland public television – roughly 9 percent of its budget. It would reduce funding for the Bethesda-based National Institutes of Health by almost $6 billion, or roughly 20 percent. And it would entirely eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission, a government partnership promoting economic development in rural communities along the Appalachian region, including western Maryland.
Given all of these extensive cuts, some legislators from Maryland were not pleased.
It gives polluters free rein. It ends the cleanup of the Chesapeake, endangering this vital habitat and the livelihood of Marylanders.
— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) March 16, 2017
— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) March 16, 2017
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) March 16, 2017
— Rep. John Delaney (@RepJohnDelaney) March 16, 2017
The EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program has been around since 1983, and the agreement reached between the federal government, states and nonprofits has since been updated several times to set new goals for reducing nutrient pollution. The most recent agreement, signed in 2014, sets goals for fisheries, water quality, land conservation and more. Without federal funding, the program would be eliminated.
Rep. Andy Harris, the state’s lone Republican representative who typically has sided with Trump since he took office, suggested the budget change for the Chesapeake Bay may need to be reconsidered.
“The Chesapeake Bay is a treasure, and as a Member of the Appropriations Committee, I am committed to working with the administration to prioritize programs within the Environmental Protection Agency that would preserve Bay cleanup efforts,” Harris said in a statement.
In rural western Maryland, Rep. Delaney says the new budget would erase programs that supplied more than $1.8 million in grants to communities last year.
Research would suffer as well. Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland both rely on federal grants for research, and could stand to lose out as a result of the cuts.
Trump’s budget isn’t necessarily designed to help Maryland, though. He promised last month that it would prioritize national security and public safety. The result was a budget that cuts many programs, but boosts defense spending from $587 billion to $639 billion, and Homeland Security funding from $41.3 billion to $44.1 billion.
Harris backed that theme of Trump’s budget proposal. “As the worldwide terrorist threat and other international dangers grow, President Trump’s proposed increases in defense and homeland security spending are vital for continuing to keep Americans safe,” he said in his statement.
The boost for those two areas could also create new jobs for Marylanders in military and border control positions. However, those potential gains almost certainly couldn’t offset job losses in a state where an estimated 300,000 people work for the federal government.
Trump’s team will likely have to go back to the drawing board due to pushback from members of both parties. Still, his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told The Washington Post his administration wanted to make their intentions clear.
“The message we’re sending to the Hill is, we want more money for the things the president talked about, defense being the top one, national security. And we don’t want to add to the budget deficit. If Congress has another way to do that, we’re happy to talk to them about it,” he said.
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