Hogan strategy on Trump’s budget cuts: Let Congress do its job

By Len Lazarick

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.

Gov. Larry Hogan.

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.

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.