Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen
March 17, 2017
On Thursday, March 16th, President Trump released his administration’s first budget request to Congress. Due to the fact he has only been in office a few months, the non-binding proposal which only provides top line numbers and broad guidance has been dubbed a “skinny” budget. Additional information and more detail is expected to be released in April and May.
After confirming budget hawk Mick Mulvaney as Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, expectations had built that the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget request would include deep cuts to non-defense discretionary programs. However, the depth and scope of the cuts ultimately proposed still managed to shock many observers. Most notably, under the President’s proposal the National Institutes of Health would see a funding reduction $5.8 billion (a cut of more than 18%). The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is also eliminated with programs and responsibilities then consolidated into an NIH with a greatly diminished budget. Very few federal programs outside of defense, law enforcement, and veterans activities avoid draconian cuts. The Department of Health and Human Services would see a budget reduction of 16.2% and the Department of Education would see a budget reduction of 13.5%.
The President’s FY 2018 Budget Request to Congress was met with widespread condemnation both within the stakeholder community and among bipartisan legislators on Capitol Hill. As Congress begins the FY 2018 appropriations process though, the specter of the administration’s proposal will hang over the ongoing deliberations. From an advocacy standpoint, such proposed reductions are dangerous and cannot go unchallenged.