President Trump’s 2020 budget proposal boosts defense and VA spending, seeks Medicare and Medicaid cuts

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Monday, President Donald Trump unveiled his proposed, $4.7 trillion budget for the next fiscal year.

The blueprint for Trump’s vision for the government and the country seeks a boost in defense spending, which could boost operations in Huntsville.

It calls for more than $8 billion in border wall funding, meaning a fight in Congress is certain.

But lots of details remain to be released, let alone agreed upon.

Alabama U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Monday the budget work is just getting started.

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt praised President Trump’s 2020 budget plan.

“I think the American people want to see a President who dares to ask federal agencies to do more with less,” Aderholt said. “That’s what so many families across America have had to do.  However, there is no question, President Trump’s job growth policies are helping the American economy.”

The White House proposal seeks a five percent increase in defense spending to $718 billion, including a three percent military pay raise.

There is continued support for missile defense, including ground-based missile work for a new missile site in Alaska. Boeing does key parts of that work in Huntsville.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also would see more money under the proposed budget. The VA medical budget would increase by nearly 10 percent to $80 billion, with even more money pledged in 2021.

The budget also takes aim at the U.S. opioid epidemic with money for enforcement, drug treatment, and research. It provides $443 million to the Drug Enforcement Administration to help deal with knockoff versions and chemical precursors to Fentanyl, now the leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S.

Medicaid would become a block grant program run by the states, under the budget proposal. It also cuts Medicare spending and aims to lower prescription drug prices.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which is setting new rules for the PFC chemicals found in the Lawrence County drinking water, would see a 31 percent overall budget cut in the president’s plan.

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones gave the budget proposal a mixed review.

“The President’s budget is a mixed bag," Jones said in a news release. "For instance, I support increased funding for our national defense, the funding for NASA and the Marshall Space Flight Center, military pay raises, paid family leave and child cancer research.

"However, those positives do not outweigh harmful cuts elsewhere in the budget which overall I believe will hurt Alabama.  I was disappointed that the Administration once again proposed slashing funds for education, housing, workforce training, and Community Development Block Grants. I am also concerned about the proposal to block grant Medicaid, privatize the Tennessee Valley Authority, and rely on public-private partnerships for infrastructure funding, a proposal that doesn’t work in rural states like Alabama.

"I will continue to study the President’s budget in the coming days and I look forward to advocating for Alabama’s priorities as the Senate works through the appropriations process this year.”

Updated at 12:35 p.m. Tuesday to include Jones comments.

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