Capitol Correspondence - 02.11.20

President Trump Sends Budget Request to Congress

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The budget process for FY2021 officially began on Monday, when the President sent Congress his annual budget request. See an infographic breaking down the budget request here. While the President’s request is not binding—only Congress can decide how much the federal government can spend and on what—it is an important document because it shows what policy areas and initiatives the Administration is prioritizing. Get our preliminary analysis on the proposal, bearing in mind that it does not reflect the two-year budget deal Congress struck at the end of 2019 and which is currently in effect.

Highlights from the President’s budget proposal relevant to the I/DD community:

  • 9 percent reduction for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which funds Medicaid and Medicare. Note that the Administration has framed the reductions as not being cuts to Medicare and Medicaid but rather savings stemming from new Administration initiatives. As reported by Politico Pulse: The safety-net health program would undergo numerous changes under the president’s blueprint, including more focus on screening for ineligible enrollees, a top priority of CMS Administrator Seema Verma. […] Trump again envisions nationwide work requirements, with his budget estimating that they would save $152.4 billion over the next decade. The policy, which has been repeatedly blocked by a federal judge, has been panned by health advocates.”
  • 8 percent reduction for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Many people with disabilities rely on SNAP vouchers to be able to afford buying food.
  • 15 percent reduction for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which includes housing assistance waivers for people with disabilities. People with disabilities face greater difficulties finding affordable, accessible housing than their peers without disabilities.
  •  11 percent reduction for the Department of Labor (DOL), which includes programs to assist people with disabilities with finding jobs. The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is a part of DOL.
  • Tacit support for the Senate’s drug pricing legislation, which includes permanent renewal of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. As reported by Politico Pro: “The White House fiscal 2021 budget request due out Monday assumes $130 billion in savings over 10 years due to drug pricing reforms, but in contrast to past years it doesn’t specify ways to get to those savings. […] Instead, the administration is leaving room to negotiate with Congress on a bipartisan pricing deal, a senior administration official said in a media briefing Sunday, noting that $130 billion in savings over a decade is aligned with estimates of savings from congressional drug pricing reform plans. […] Those comments likely indicate the administration will continue to push for a deal along the lines of Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden’s bipartisan drug pricing bill, S. 2543 (116), which advanced the Senate Finance Committee this summer. CBO estimated the bill would save $100 billion over a decade, though an updated version released in December has not yet been scored.”

How the President’s budget contrasts with the Congressional climate:

As reported by Politico Pro: “The two-year budget deal forged by Congress and the Trump administration last summer cemented $738 billion in fiscal 2020 funding for the military and $632 billion for non-defense departments. Federal funding limits will be even higher — but still tight — for the fiscal year that begins in October, allowing an extra $2.5 billion for the military and another $2.5 billion bump for non-defense programs, under the agreement.

Trump is instead pushing for cuts to the non-defense spending level that he negotiated with Congress, bringing that level down to $590 billion, while maintaining military funding at $740.5 billion.

As with his previous budget proposals, Trump is once again seeking deep and unrealistic cuts to a number of federal agency budgets, and the cuts are unlikely to be embraced by Congress.”