Budget boss Mulvaney's $327M proposed cut for Congress draws pushback

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney irked some members of the House Appropriations Committee on Monday after proposing that Congress slash $327 million from its $3.8 billion Legislative Branch funding bill.

The White House telling Congress how to spend money on its operations is an “unusual practice,” Politico reported.

In a letter to panel Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., and ranking member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Mulvaney identified numerous areas where Congress could reduce spending on itself. Those areas included House salaries and expenses, funding to the Architect of the Capitol, earmarks for public exhibits and visitor services, and the Library of Congress, the Politico report said.

“The Administration appreciates the opportunity to highlight several accounts in the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill that are not in line with its view that spending for the Legislative Branch should be restrained,” Mulvaney wrote.

“The Administration appreciates the opportunity to highlight several accounts in the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill that are not in line with its view that spending for the Legislative Branch should be restrained.”

— Mick Mulvaney, White House budget director

Mulvaney’s critics included U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., who were both CC'd on the letter.

“Director Mulvaney should turn his calls for spending restraint toward the Trump Administration’s mounting spending scandals involving the obscene waste of taxpayer money,” Ryan told Politico. “I didn’t hear any calls for restraint from Director Mulvaney when the Administration used taxpayer dollars to buy a $43,000 phone booth or a $31,000 dining room table. Where is Director Mulvaney while the Administration is piling-up private jet costs and taking $120,000 Italian vacations — all on the government dime?”

Ryan said the funding would help the legislative branch “carry out its mission of writing our nation’s laws and exercising needed oversight over the Executive Branch.”

Frelinghuysen has reportedly not yet responded to Mulvaney’s letter. But the retiring lawmaker is waging a separate funding battle with another member of the Trump administration.

Having obtained funding in Congress' recent spending bill for the New York-New Jersey area's massive Gateway rail-tunnel project, Frelinghuysen is pushing back against Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who has confirmed that President Donald Trump threatened to shut down the government rather than finance the project, reported.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. (Associated Press)

Chao, according the NJ.com, said the president was “only being cordial” when he appeared to signal support for the plan during a meeting last year with top New Jersey and New York officials.

But Frelinghuysen reminded Chao that New York and New Jersey “bore the brunt” of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and were also hard hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the report said.

"The benefits - no, the necessity - of this project is clear and I remain angered by this administration's opposition and very calculated indifference," Frelinghuysen said. "And this posture from an administration which claims to be 'infrastructure-centric!'"

The new Hudson River tube is necessary so that damage to the existing tunnel, inflicted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, can be repaired, the report said.

"Some have suggested that partisan considerations - by the White House and some in my own party - are at work here. I should hope not," Frelinghuysen said.

Chao responded that Gateway has to wait its turn and needs to “fulfill the requirements.”

"No political pressure is going to take one of those projects, put it at the head of the line ahead of all other projects, which is what is happening in this particular case," she said.

Despite opposition, Trump signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill that included $540 million for Gateway.

"I repeat: Gateway will be built," Frelinghuysen said.