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Trump trims US spending cuts amid warnings of new fiscal fight

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President Donald Trump and conservative Republicans in the U.S. Congress were edging away on Monday from a threat to pick a new budget fight with Democrats, with the White House expected to propose spending cuts much less severe than previously planned.
Trump’s budget “rescissions” will likely encompass cuts in the range of $11 billion to $15 billion, said senior aides, well short of the $60 billion in reductions Republicans floated a few weeks ago.

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The White House scheduled a briefing on the plan for reporters later on Monday.

The pull-back comes after party elders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, warned against cuts that would unravel a two-year budget deal enacted with the help of Democrats in February.

McConnell and aides were not immediately available for comment on the latest White House approach.

Even the reduced cuts could antagonize Democrats, whose votes will be needed in months ahead to help pass bills to keep the government running in the fiscal year starting on Oct. 1.

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The White House suggested this week’s rescissions could be the first in a series.

The conservative group Americans for Prosperity, backed by the billionaire industrialist Koch Brothers, on Monday floated spending cut proposals totaling around $45 billion. Most reductions were aimed at non-defense spending, including nearly $1.5 billion in child nutrition programs, $700 billion in student grants and $2.2 billion in international disaster aid. Such spending programs are typically defended by Democrats.
Washington was consumed for much of 2017 by fiscal infighting that pitted conservative Republicans against moderates in their own party and Democrats, with the federal deficit and national debt soaring in the background.

As November’s congressional elections approach, all sides have an interest in a truce that would let lawmakers focus on running for reelection in their home states, while putting a lid on long-standing fiscal disputes for a few months.

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Democrats in the House and Senate were withholding judgment on Trump’s scaled-back cuts, pending more details. The cuts were expected to be aimed mainly at deleting federal funds that have been sitting unspent for a few years.

Some lawmakers worried that some of the unspent money is still needed, such as funds earmarked for fortifying U.S. coastlines against hurricanes. That money was enacted after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

In an op-ed published by the Washington Examiner newspaper, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy wrote of “giving the bloated federal budget a much-needed spring cleaning.”

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McCarthy is hoping to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan next year. To do that, McCarthy would need the support of conservative House Republicans, who spoke last month of taking an “aggressive” approach to budget rescissions.

That has rankled Democrats. They noted that they opposed tax cuts Republicans enacted in December that have ballooned federal budget deficits in recent months and were projected to add at least $1.9 trillion to the $21 trillion national debt.

Massive increases in defense and non-defense spending agreed to in March by both parties will add $1.3 trillion more to the debt.

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Additional reportin by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and David Gregorio


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Columnist urges Gen. Mattis to save America from Trump before trying to peddle his book

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Former Defense Secretary James Mattis appeared on "Meet the Press" Sunday to promote his new autobiography, but he refused to indicate whether or not he agrees with the president on the recent decision to allow attacks on Kurdish allies.

In a Washington Post column, opinion writer James Downie noted that Mattis "ducked" each time he was asked where he disagrees with President Donald Trump.

Mattis not only dodged questions about the U.S. and Russia, Mattis said he wouldn't "make political assessments" because the Defense Department stays outside of politics. Mattis is no longer at the Department of Defense, nor is he an active-duty soldier, so it's unclear what his excuse is.

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Trump claimed US was taking custody of 5 dozen ISIS prisoners — but troops didn’t get them in time

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There was a concern that the Turkish attacks on the U.S. Kurdish allies would free dozens of ISIS fighters that were captured by those on the ground. According to the Kurds, once Turkey began dropping bombs on the area, there wouldn't be anyone who could stay to guard the prison.

The last thing the U.S. military or any allies wanted was for terrorists to be freed by Turkey's new war. But that's exactly what happened. According to the New York Times, approximately five dozen ISIS prisoners and about 700 family members and sympathizers of the Islamic State fighters "escaped a Kurdish-run camp in northern Syria as Turkish-led assault unleashes chaos."

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14 people dead after Turkey fires on civilian convoy carrying journalists and aid workers

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A convoy carrying foreign journalists, civilians and state defense forces (SDF) traveling to Ras al-Ayn was fired upon by Turkish forces, NBC News reported Sunday.

So far, 14 are dead and 10 have been injured. The convoy was being guarded by armed men and was hit as it arrived in the city, a border town that Turkey has seized as they have been firing on the Kurds.

"We have heard from some of the journalists that were part of this convoy, a convoy that was a mix of journalists and civilians. A France2 reporter was inside the convoy. She tweets 'We were in the convoy targeted by Turkish forces and allies. Our team is fine, but some colleagues are dead.' No details on the colleagues," said NBC News reporter Erin McLaughlin. "We’re also waiting to hear from Turkish military officials about what unfolded there today."

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