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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Some of President Trump’s top aides, who assume he will be re-elected, are already planning for an epic 2021 spending battle.

What's happening: Senior administration officials — including acting Office of Management and Budget director Russ Vought and fiscally conservative chief Mick Mulvaney — have told Republicans that the president doesn't want Congress to strike a spending deal in September when current funding runs out. Instead, Team Trump wants a short-term solution to preserve the ability to fight for massive spending cuts in the fifth year of a Trump presidency.

  • The White House thinks the most likely scenario this year is that the president signs a one-year "continuing resolution" (a continuation of 2019 spending levels through 2020), followed by another short-term extension next September to get past the November election.

Why it matters: Some senior administration officials envision a newly re-elected Trump liberated to slash spending. They view 2021 as the year to have that fight — the final year in which the president can threaten hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. (These automatic cuts, which attack both defense and domestic spending, expire in 2021.)

  • As president, Trump has floated massive budget cuts but signed legislation making the debt and deficits worse.
  • It's a huge broken promise. During his 2016 campaign, Trump said he would eliminate the $19 trillion debt over eight years. The debt now stands at $22 trillion — the highest ever.
  • Trump has spent prolifically, cutting taxes without making up the lost revenue. And now, he’s flirting with a $2 trillion infrastructure bill (but doesn't want to raise taxes to pay for it).

The big picture: Trump wants to spend more on prized projects, but still views most of government as a mass of fraud and waste — ripe for slashing.

Aides say Trump wants to spend more on the military, veterans’ programs, NASA, infrastructure and border security.

The bottom line: Trump will entertain cutting almost anything else. "The president feels like he's had to give up ransom" to Democrats, who pressured him to increase domestic spending in exchange for more spending on the military and border security, an administration official told me.

  • He reserves special contempt for foreign aid and additional disaster relief money going to Puerto Rico, which he believes the Puerto Rican government is unfit to manage.

Go deeper

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.

Del Rio bridge camp empty following Haitian migrant surge

A boy bathes himself in a jug of water inside a migrant camp at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sept. 21 in Del Rio, Texas. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The last migrants camping under the Del Rio International Bridge, which connects Texas and Mexico, departed on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during a White House press briefing.

Driving the news: Thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, had arrived to the makeshift camp after crossing the southern border seeking asylum. Roughly 1,800 migrants will now head to U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing centers.

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