Hogan strategy on Trump budget cuts works — Let Congress do its job

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By Len Lazarick

Len@MarylandReporter.com

Gov. Larry Hogan’s strategy on President Trump’s budget apparently worked: Shut up and let the Maryland’s members of Congress do their job.

Democratic officials and party leaders had demanded the Republican governor stand up to Trump and resist plans to cut funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup, medical research at the National Institutes of Health, and funding for the Affordable Care Act.

Hogan said it was up to Congress to act on the president’s budget, and a spokesman said the governor would act if and when the cuts actually happened.

Hogan also met privately with the members of the Maryland congressional delegation to list his priorities, and went to Washington to lobby Trump cabinet secretaries.

The federal budget for the next five months that passed the House of Representatives Wednesday contained none of the steep cuts Trump had proposed, and even included increases for medical research that benefits NIH and large recipients of research dollars like Johns Hopkins University.

Ruppersberger pleased; Harris opposed

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the 2nd District Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said: “After months of inaction and irresponsible threats of a government shutdown, I am pleased that the House of Representatives came together to keep our government funded through the end of the fiscal year. This should be the norm, not the exception. This is what we are elected to do every year.”

Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, thanked “the bipartisan coalition of senators and representatives from the Chesapeake Bay watershed for their tireless efforts to preserve funds for Bay restoration in the omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal 2017.”

Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s lone Republican in the House, was the only one of the state’s representative to vote against the budget funding. But he had previously stated his support for continuing Bay cleanup funding, and for additional money for medical research, UPDATE: but only for younger researchers and innovative research. On the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing NIH, Harris has been critical of NIH funding of as much as $6 billion for indirect expenses at research institutions.

The budget funding passed 309-118, with 178 Democrats for the bill and 103 Republicans opposed. More Democrats than Republicans voted for the measure.

Raskin praises unified Dems

Said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-8th, “In this deal, Democrats stood strong against terrible proposals advanced by President Trump and secured significant victories for American families, the U.S. economy, and our shared values. I’m proud of the unity and focus in the Democratic Caucus.”

“The omnibus deal secures funding for key Maryland priorities.,” Raskin said. “Despite President Trump’s alarming proposal to cut the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $5.8 billion, we actually secured a $2 billion increase for the NIH, which conducts groundbreaking medical research for people all over the country and is headquartered in Maryland’s 8th District. The omnibus deal also includes $125 million in funding for the highly-anticipated Purple Line under the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program, provides full funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, and an increase in funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

At least through September, there are no federal budget cuts that would reduce the federal workforce in Maryland, potentially reducing state revenues, or cut Medicaid funding that would force state budget reductions and harm beneficiaries.

UPDATE: Senate passes budget

After the U.S. Senate passed the spending bill 78-18 Thursday, with only a third of Republicans opposed, Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said in a statement:

“I hope that when the president signs this measure into law he reflects on the value of bipartisan cooperation, the role of minority rights in the Senate, and our democratic system of checks and balances and separation of powers. I urge him to stop his reckless talk about a future ‘good shutdown’ of the government. Such a move would be a self-inflicted wound that would only hurt our economy, citizens, and ultimately many critical research and development efforts across the government and private sector.”

“It will be good for the entire country if we can now carry this spirit of bipartisanship into negotiations for the fiscal year 2018 spending bills, which must be enacted before September 30.”