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Alaska’s congressional delegates react to Trump’s budget proposal

By KTVA / AP 3:36 PM March 16, 2017

President Donald Trump has unveiled a $1.15 trillion budget, a far-reaching overhaul of federal government spending that slashes many domestic programs to finance a significant increase in the military and make a down payment on a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Trump’s proposal seeks to upend Washington with cuts to long-promised campaign targets like foreign aid and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as strong congressional favorites such as medical research, help for homeless veterans and community development grants.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t see how President Donald Trump’s recommended budget for the fiscal year can survive the light of day. Pelosi says the budget represents a philosophical distrust of the role of the federal government in any way meeting the needs of Americans.

Pelosi says the budget should be a statement of national values. She says the strength of America doesn’t just depend on a strong military, but on well-educated children, life-saving medical research and a healthy environment.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski had a slightly different take, saying in a statement that the budget was reflective of the president’s priorities.

“We will consider them, but it is the congressional budget and appropriations committees that will establish our priorities and fund them over the coming months,” she wrote, adding that “While I support the President’s emphasis on a strong national defense, I cannot support many of the proposed cuts in this ‘skinny’ budget. Programs like Essential Air Service, Low Income Heating Assistance, and water and wastewater programs are critical to the health, welfare, and safety of Alaskans, especially those in our remote, rural communities.”

She said she welcomed “the President’s willingness to reverse the previous administration’s decline in military readiness,” noting its particular importance to the F-35 program at Eielson Air Force Base, near Fairbanks. The $54 billion boost for the military is the largest since President Ronald Reagan’s Pentagon buildup in the 1980s. It promises immediate money for troop readiness, the fight against Islamic State militants and procurement of new ships, fighter jets and other weapons.

Sen. Dan Sullivan likewise was supportive of President Trump’s increase in funding for national defense and homeland security, and called the proposal “a first step” and “general blueprint for where our country should be headed.”

“However, some of the specific cuts in this budget disproportionately target rural economies across our country, including in Alaska, and some don’t align with the commitments made by members of the Trump administration during their confirmation process and hearings,” Sullivan noted. “Going forward, I’ll be working closely with Senator Murkowski and Congressman Young to fight for programs and funding specifically designed to help Alaska grow its economy and to build infrastructure projects that align with acceptable modern standards.”

Rep. Don Young’s statement on the president’s budget request was brief: “This budget isn’t going anywhere. The President has an obligation to propose a budget, but it’s Congress’ responsibility to write the budget and set spending.”

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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