As Congress confronts bottom-line priorities, the St. Louis region is a good example of how the spending choices it will make this year have competing, long-term effects.
While members of the congressional delegation have lauded President Donald Trump’s push to increase defense spending by $54 billion as good for weapons programs like the St. Louis-built Navy EA/18 Super Hornet jet, others caution that a defense boost should not come at the expense of increased funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health. That is also an important regional factor because of major medical research institutions in St. Louis and its surrounding suburbs.
Researchers told a Senate hearing Wednesday that federal research spending is helping them make leapfrogging gains in everything from cancer research to development of a more effective flu vaccine.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairs that subcommittee, and he said after the hearing that he believes Trump does not have the votes necessary to stave off a filibuster in the Senate if his domestic cuts go too deeply.
“I just don’t see 60 senators voting to do that and so I think the president is going to have to work with us to find some other way” to raise defense spending without cutting vital programs, Blunt said. “It doesn’t mean we can’t prioritize.”
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch