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Capitol Correspondence - 03.27.17

President’s Budget Proposes Deep Cuts to Agencies, Increased Defense Spending

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On March 16, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for FY 2018. Overall, the budget proposes deep cuts for many executive agencies, as well as a $54 billion increase in defense spending. The departments of Agriculture, Labor and State would see reductions of more than 20 percent while the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) would face a 30 percent cut in funding. Spending would also be cut at Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation, among others. The budget seeks $1.7 billion in funding in 2017 to begin construction on a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and another $2.6 billion in 2018. 
Of particular interest to providers are the following items:

DOL Funding – The President’s 2018 Budget requests $9.6 billion for the Department of Labor, a $2.5 billion or 21 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. 

ODEP – Refocuses the Office of Disability Employment Policy, eliminating less critical technical assistance grants and launching an early intervention demonstration project to allow States to test and evaluate methods that help individuals with disabilities remain attached to or reconnect to the labor market.

DOED Funding -The President’s 2018 Budget provides $59 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education, a $9 billion or 13 percent reduction below the 2017 annualized CR level. 

IDEA Funding – Maintains approximately $13 billion in funding for IDEA programs to support students with special education needs. This funding provides States, school districts, and other grantees with the resources needed to provide high quality special education and related services to students and young adults with disabilities.

The President’s proposal is a blueprint indicating his policy priorities, but the budget must actually be constructed and passed by Congress. This means that President Trump will have to persuade Congress of his vision in order to appropriate funds in the way he wants. Some lawmakers are already pushing back on the budget. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said, “The administration’s budget isn’t going to be the budget. We do the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.”