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Cardin warns Md. of 'disastrous' Trump budget cuts, Purple Line threat

FILE - Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee questions Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson during Tillerson's confirmation hearing before the committee, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- President Donald Trump's proposed budget would have a "disastrous" impact on Maryland and could threaten the Purple Line light rail plan in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Sen. Ben Cardin said Friday.

Cardin, a Democrat, noted the bipartisan opposition to many provisions in the budget plan, but said the president's proposal is "a dangerous blueprint," because it could lead to irresponsible cuts in the discretionary budget.

"No, we will not pass the president's budget as submitted. I'm quite confident about that, but I do think it's a dangerous blueprint to follow in any of its directions, and it's possible that some of this at the end of the day could become policy for our country," Cardin said in a conference call with Maryland journalists.

Cardin noted plans to construct the Purple Line, 16 miles of light rail connecting Bethesda to College Park at a cost of about $2 billion.

"My understanding is we don't have all the i's dotted and t's crossed in regards to the Purple Line, so that could be at risk," Cardin said. "I don't want to raise a full alarm button, but I think there is at least a reason to be concerned as to whether the Trump administration would be honoring the Purple Line, along with other transit systems. We're not alone on this."

Other proposed cuts raising concern across Maryland would impact Coast Guard patrols off Ocean City, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, he said.

Cardin also blasted Trump's plans to eliminate federal funding to coordinate Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts. He joined senators from other states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to denounce the cuts in a letter Friday.

Meanwhile, Cardin said he remains optimistic that a new FBI headquarters will be located in Maryland. He said the General Services Administration was waiting for congressional action on the fiscal year 2017 budget before announcing it.

"We're optimistic it will be Maryland," he said.

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