HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

GOP congressman backs deep cuts in Trump's budget plan, amid possible voter backlash

Florida GOP Rep. Francis Rooney said Saturday that he is on board with many parts of President Trump’s budget proposal, including cuts to entitlement programs.

While congressional Republicans like Rooney are eager to reduce the national debt, the steep cuts in Trump’s plan have caused them some concern, especially with every House member facing reelection next year.

“There are important reductions in there that cut out government waste,” Rooney told Fox News’ “America’s News Headquarters.” “People have to realize what happened in the election, parts of America rose up and said we’re tired of being spent to death.”

Trump’s proposed $4.1 trillion budget plan has received scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans.

Rooney described the plan as an “initial guide” and said he is mostly pleased with the spending cuts.

Under the administration’s aggressive proposal, the country would reach a balanced budget within 10 years.

“There are important reductions in there that cut out government waste,” said Rooney, a businessman whose family started a Florida-based international investment company.

The so-called “skinny budget” cuts billions of dollars from such federal agencies as the departments of State, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services. The Education Department faces the biggest cut -- nearly $5 billion.

Democrats are denouncing the plan largely because it calls for eliminating 66 federal programs.

“The problem is when you put a budget forward that actually does cut the budget … it's harder to actually get it done because that involves scaling back programs that are popular in many states,” Washington Examiner chief congressional correspondent Susan Ferrechio said Saturday.

Ferrechio cited such programs as low-income heating assistance and Meals on Wheels. She also argued that presidents’ budget proposals historically are just a starting point for Congress and “never popular.”

The Republican-led Congress is working on the budget amid efforts to improve the U.S. tax code, the Senate’s attempt to overhaul ObamaCare and two congressional investigations into whether anybody in the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

“We’ve got so many problems facing our country and we really need to move forward on health care reform.” Rooney said.