FedWeb.com Tip Sheet: Breaking Developments

February 21, 2018 / by Charles S. Konigsberg

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Senate Defeats 3 DACA Plans;  Dreamers Relying on Court Injunctions as March 5 Looms

  • February 15:  After months of negotiations on DACA, border security, and immigration, the Senate voted down two bipartisan plans and soundly defeated the Trump Administration proposal, and then left town for the President's Day recess.
    • The failure to agree on DACA and funding for border security could jeopardize negotiations on an omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2018. 
      • An omnibus bill is necessary by March 23 to keep the government open and to enact the line-item appropriations implementing the overall spending levels set by the Feb. 9 Bipartisan Budget Act.
      • One way to avoid imperiling the spending bill would be a short-term DACA extension through the end of this fiscal year and appropriations for a first installment of Trump's $25 billion border security/wall request.
    • The Senate soundly rejected the President's immigration plan 39-60 that called for:
    • The bipartisan plan unveiled yesterday by the "common sense caucus" failed 54-45, short of the required 60 votes, after the White House launched a full scale attack on the plan.  The bipartisan plan would have:
      • included Trump's offer to grant legal status to 1.8 million young immigrants;
      • appropriated $25 billion for southern border security construction over a decade — although not front-loaded as Trump is demanding;
      • curbed family-based immigration, but not to the extent Trump is seeking; and
      • would have retained the diversity visa lottery program Trump wants eliminated.
    • The McCain-Coons bipartisan plan, a more limited approach to grant legal status to Dreamers and provide funds for border security, failed 52-47, short of the required 60 votes.
  • What Now?  Although the Trump Administration had planned to let DACA protections expire beginning March 5, 2018, judges in California and New York have issued temporary injunctions to keep DACA in place for Dreamers already in the program.
  • Americans overwhelmingly favor DACA:  January 2018 CBS News poll found that 87 percent of Americans favor allowing young immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as children to remain.
  • More DACA Facts
  • [Back to Top of Page]

President's Budget (released Feb. 12, 2018): 

Budget Highlights:

  • Dangerous Debt Increases:  

    • President's budget policies prioritize the recent massive tax cuts and defense increases over stabilizing deficits -- which are increasingly dangerous and unsustainable, with baseline deficits nearing $1 trillion in FY 2019 and growing thereafter, accumulated federal debt reaching 101% of GDP within a decade, and accompanying interest payments exceeding $850 billion per year.
    • The rapid and dangerous growth of interest payments will increasingly crowd out the nation's ability to invest in: our people's education, training, and health; infrastructure to keep the nation competitive; national defense and law enforcement; disaster response and rebuilding; and vital programs that protect elderly, children, and disabled Americans.
    • Last year, CBO projected that by 2050, interest payments would equal Social Security -- and that was estimated prior to the recent tax cuts and defense increases.
    • The largest benefits of the $1.5 trillion December tax cuts went to wealthy individuals and large corporations. JCT Analysis •  TPC Analysis
  • More Defense Increases and Tax Cuts - Worsening the Debt:

    • $810 Billion Defense Increase:  Proposes to make the BBA's defense increases permanent.
    • $600 Billion Tax Cut:  Extends the recent tax cuts (individual and estate), at a cost of $600 billion.
  • Big Cuts to Health, Education and Low-Income Programs (10-year numbers):

    • $1.4 trillion cut in total Medicaid cuts resulting from repeal of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion and other changes, impacting millions of low-income children, seniors, and people with disabilities.
    • $265 billion cut to Medicare payments, mostly affecting hospitals and post-acute care facilities serving millions of America's seniors and people with disabilities.
    • $203 billion cut in Federal student loans programs.
    • $215 billion cut in SNAP (Food Stamps) which protects 44 million people from food insecurity and hunger.
    • $75 billion cut from extending the annual "sequestration" of Medicare and other mandatory programs.
    • $72 billion cut in disability programs.
    • $68 billion cut to Federal employee retirement.
    • $58 billion cut to farm, agriculture, and food safety programs.
    • $50 billion cut from reducing the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant and eliminating the Social Services Block Grant.
    • Eliminates the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
  • Anemic/Misleading Proposal on Infrastructure: 

    • Ensuring modern and efficient interstate commerce to keep the U.S. economy integrated and economically competitive is a federal responsibility under the Constitution. However, the President's Budget requests only $21 billion for infrastructure in FY 2019, at a time when ASCE estimates $2 trillion is required to address U.S. infrastructure rated "at strong risk of failure" and "mediocre."
    • Misleading:  This anemic request is puffed up as the first installment of a $199 billion 10-year investment that will leverage $1.5 trillion together with State, local, and private investments--ignoring the reality that State and local governments are financially stressed, and highways, bridges, transit, airports, seaports, and waterways are public -- not private sector -- responsibilities.
    • $122 billion cut in the highway program.... There are no new revenues to fund this meager investment -- the spending would be taken from other domestic programs including transportation, with a $122 billion cut in highway programs after the expiration of the current highway bill.
  • One-Third Cut to Environmental Protection:

  • Violates Last Week's Bipartisan Budget Agreement on Domestic Spending:

    • Domestic spending in 2019 funded at $57 billion below agreement:  While fully funding defense levels, the budget renounces last week's spending caps deal for funding of non-defense discretionary programs -- the part of the budget that funds transportation and economic development; healthcare and health research; veterans healthcare; education and training; income security; science, environment, and energy; law enforcement; and diplomacy and international affairs.
    • 42 percent cut in domestic discretionary spending by 2028:  After 2019, the budget calls for progressively larger cuts in domestic spending (2% per year and no inflation adjustment), culminating in a funding level in 2028 that is 33 percent below the BBA level for this year and 42 percent after factoring in inflation.
    • The National League of Cities released a statement: "Rather than honor Congress' bipartisan funding agreement, the White House has only offered a roadmap for disinvestment and disengagement with cities and local governments."
  • Over $2 Trillion in Budget Gimmicks to make Long-Term Deficits Appear Smaller:

    • Budget assumes savings of $813 billion due to economic growth, which presumes higher than average growth (3% per year) and no economic downturn for 10 years -- despite Administration policies resulting in slower rates of work force growth by cutting immigration.
    • Assumes savings of $720 billion (including interest savings) from phase-out of the off-budget war fund ("overseas contingency operations"), which is unrealistic given the current state of ongoing conflicts.
    • Budget ignores increasingly extreme weather patterns and assumes spending $174 billion less in emergency and disaster funding.
    • Assumes $151 billion in savings from reducing unspecified improper payments.
    • These gimmicks obfuscate the seriousness of the rapidly escalating debt in the U.S. that will reach 100% of GDP by 2028 under CBO's nonpartisan baseline estimates.
  • Analyses/Statements on the President's Budget: 

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About Charles S. Konigsberg and the Federal Budget Group LLC
Charles Konigsberg

Charles Konigsberg, President of the Federal Budget Group and Founder of FedWeb.com, has served as Assistant Director at the White House Office of Management and Budget, General Counsel and minority Chief Health Counsel at Senate Finance Committee, Minority Chief Counsel at Senate Rules Committee, Staff Attorney at Senate Budget Committee, Director of Congressional Affairs at the Corp. for National Service, Director of the Bipartisan Debt Reduction Task Force, and is author of a comprehensive, plain English explanation of the Federal budget, America’s Priorities.”.

2018 Congressional Calendar

(Note: House is in recess numerous Mondays and Fridays; check majorityleader.gov)

  • Jan 3: HSE, SEN convene
  • Jan 22-26: HSE recess
  • Feb 1-2: HSE recess
  • Feb 8-9: HSE recess
  • Feb 19-23: Pres Day recess
  • Mar 26-Apr 6: Easter/Passover recess
  • Apr 30-May 4: HSE recess
  • May 28-Jun 1: Mem Day recess
  • Jul 2-6: July 4 recess
  • Jul 30/Aug 6-Sept 3: HSE/SEN Summer recess
  • Sept 10-11: Rosh Hashanah recess
  • Sept 17-21: HSE recess
  • Oct 15-Nov 9: HSE Election recess
  • Oct 29-Nov 12: SEN Election recess
  • 19-23: Thanksgiving recess
  • Dec. 13/14: HSE/SEN Target Adjournment