U.S. President Donald Trump sent Congress a $4.4 trillion budget proposal Monday, February 12, outlining increases in military spending, a budget for diplomacy and foreign aid, and cuts in several federal programs and agencies among others for the next 2019 fiscal year.
The blueprint comes after Trump last week signed a two-year bipartisan budget deal struck by Congress to increase military and domestic spending by $300 billion.
The proposal released Monday is unlikely to make it pass both chambers of Congress in its current form — it’s estimated to add $7 trillion to the federal deficit over the next ten years. But it does though, shed light on some of the administration’s funding priorities.
Funding for infrastructure, immigration enforcement, opioid crisis
Office of Budget Management director Mick Mulvaney, wrote to Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) Monday saying that the administration “does not believe these non-defense spending levels comport with its vision for the proper role and the size of the Federal Government.”
He added, “However, we believe it is prudent to lay out the Administration’s roadmap for how to account for these higher non-defense spending levels in a responsible manner.”
The budget deal reached last week secured the raising of spending caps by around $300 billion, but Monday’s outline proposes $540 billion in nondefense spending for the 2019 fiscal year which starts October. That’s $57 billion less than the cap set by Congress.
In the proposal, $200 billion would be alloted to expanding infrastructure over the next decade — $44.6 billion in 2019. Many in Congress think the $200 billion isn’t enough.
The $200 billion from direct federal investment is part of the larger $1.5. trillion Trump introduced at his State of the Union address last month which leaves the rest to come from state, local, and private investment.
“We will build, we will maintain, and the vast majority of Americans wants to see us take care of our infrastructure,” said Trump on Monday when he released the proposal.
The American Society of Civil Engineers gave an overall grade of a D-plus for U.S. infrastructure, and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association recently released a report that summed over 54,000 structurally deficient bridges in the U.S.
But the allotment would also mean reducing funds for existing transportation programs of $178 billion over the next decade, according to the Times. Amtrak grants could be nearly cut in half from $1.2 trillion to $538 billion. The Army Corps of Engineers would also see a cut of over 20 percent.
In line with the Trump administration’s efforts on curbing illegal immigration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would get $46 billion under the new proposal for 2019 — $3.4 billion more than this year’s. The DHS would also hire 2,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 750 border patrol agents.
As for Trump’s wall, the proposal seeks $18 billion towards building one along the southern border with Mexico and would include a wall of around 65 miles along South Texas, costing $1.6 billion.
The proposal also looks to allocate $13 billion in new spending for treatment, recovery support services, and mental health programs in relation to the opioid crisis.
Also included is a 13 percent increase of $80 billion for the Pentagon, and $85 billion for veteran care.
Cuts in health care, and programs in science, arts, and social welfare
A total of 22 programs and agencies would be cut through the proposal, many of which are in the environmental, arts, sciences, and social welfare sectors. Programs and agencies include the National Wildlife Refuge Fund, the NASA Office of Education, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
The Environmental Protection Agency would see a slash of $2.8 billion of its budget — 34 percent down from its current level. The agency’s Office of Science and Technology would also be cut nearly in half, from its current $762 to $489 million.
Congress did reject a similar proposal last year, but that hasn’t stopped it from being included in the latest proposal outline. If the proposal were to be approved, the EPA funding would be the lowest since 1990.
Furthermore, programs related to fighting climate change effects — labeled “lower priority” programs by the administration — would also be eliminated.
Federal entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps would see reductions of at least $1.7 trillion with Medicare specifically seeing cuts of $237 billion.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly known as the Food Stamp Program — would also have its funding cut by at least 30 percent over the next ten years. How recipients receive their benefits would also change.
The White House proposes that a share of food stamps be replaced with a premade “Harvest box” of “100 percent American grown foods provided directly to households” — Mulvaney compared the box to those that come from Blue Apron, a subscription company that sends ingredients to customers on a regular basis.
“What we do is propose that for folks who are on food stamps, part — not all, part — of their benefits come in the actual sort of, and I don’t want to steal somebody’s copyright, but a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” said Mulvaney.
In comparison with last year, the White House estimates that around $600 million would be saved by taxpayers as a result of such program cuts. (Rae Ann Varona / AJPress)