U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to eliminate more than US$18 billion worth of health and education social programs in order to fund his anti-immigrant wall along the border with Mexico, documents submitted to the U.S. Congress Tuesday showed, according to the Associated Press.
The documents were submitted by the White House to Republican lawmakers as part of intensive talks over a bill to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government in late April.
The administration plan would eliminate the National Institutes of Health research grants, which are worth US$1.2 billion, which are a favorite of both Democrats and Republicans, the AP reported.
Trump also wants to cut half of the funding of the community development block grant program, about US$1.5 billion, along with a US$500 million from a transportation project known as TIGER grants under the unpopular plan, the agency said.
“Like Trump's 2018 proposed budget, which was panned by both Democrats and Republicans earlier this month, the proposals have little chance of being enacted,” the AP said in its report.
While the White House said that the spending package bill has not been shared with the media, a source from Capitol Hill shared the info with the AP and confirmed that funding for the Mexico-U.S. border wall is included in the budget.
“The administration is asking the American taxpayer to cover the cost of a wall — unneeded, ineffective, absurdly expensive — that Mexico was supposed to pay for, and he is cutting programs vital to the middle class to get that done," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly said after the news of the spending bill.
"Build the wall or repair or build a bridge or tunnel or road in your community? What's the choice?" Democrat senators have threatened to filibuster any bill seeking to fund the Mexico wall, one of the cornerstones of the Trump presidential campaign that has been called racist by immigration activists and human rights groups.
The AP reported that Trump is asking for “immediate funds to complete an existing barrier in the Rio Grande Valley, (US)$500 million to complete 28 miles of border levee wall near McAllen, Texas, and (US)$350 million for construction along two segments near San Diego.”
Other cuts to social programs in order to fund the wall along the 1,900 miles-long border would include immediately throwing out more than US$400 million for a program to encourage community service opportunities for senior citizens, eliminating US$372 million in funding for heating subsidies for the poor, and cutting US$447 million in transit grants.
Trump repeatedly promised to build the wall during his presidential campaign in order to stop what he called rapists and drug dealers from Mexico. He had also vowed to make Mexico pay for the wall, something the Mexican government has completely rejected.
It is unlikely that the spending bill would pass through Congress as Republicans would seek to avoid another showdown with the Democrats after the recent significant defeat of their health care bill to replace the Obama administration system.