Trump Seeks Research, Education Cuts to Offset Defense Boost

  • The administration details $18 billion cut for fiscal 2017
  • Congress has signaled it will reject the proposal in bills

Trump’s Border Wall: Either Way, You Pay

President Donald Trump asked Congress to slash nearly $18 billion from medical research, education and other programs for the remainder of the current fiscal year to finance construction of a border wall and build up the military.

The recommended cuts, which are likely to be rejected by Congress, would partially offset a $30 billion increase Trump has requested for defense and border security. The cuts were detailed in a list the White House budget office sent to the House and Senate Appropriations committees on Friday.

A source familiar with the proposal provided the document to Bloomberg. It was reported earlier by Politico.

"I would say those cuts are highly improbable," California Representative Ken Calvert, a Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said Tuesday. He said that the subcommittee he chairs is wrapping up talks on spending bills for the rest of fiscal 2017 and Trump’s request came late in the process.

A senior Republican appropriator, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, suggested Tuesday that Republicans and Democrats are negotiating a spending bill that likely won’t include Trump’s supplemental request for extra defense spending and the cuts he’s proposed to pay for it.

“All the House and Senate leadership is working together to finalize the FY ’17 bills,” Blunt told reporters, using an acronym for fiscal 2017. “My guess is that comes together better without the supplemental.”

Congress faces an April 28 deadline to pass a spending plan for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, or else the government may partially shut down. The White House’s recommendations may raise the likelihood of a government shutdown, as many lawmakers would object to individual cuts or to the overall package of changes.

‘Unnecessary Crisis’

Washington Senator Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, said in a statement that after the failure of health-care legislation last week, Trump’s proposed budget cut "seems intent on driving our country into another completely unnecessary crisis."

Republicans, she added, "need to do the right thing and ignore this absurd demand from President Trump to renege on our bipartisan agreement, they need to push aside the extreme members of their caucus who want to defund Planned Parenthood, and they need to work with us on a fair and responsible budget for the rest of this year."

Many of the cuts proposed in the Office of Management and Budget’s document are aligned with reductions Trump has recommended in his budget for fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1. They include slashing funding for education, health research, foreign aid and housing.

Trump proposed cutting the Education Department’s budget in fiscal 2017 by about $3 billion, including $1 billion each for Pell Grant rescissions and funding for teacher training and class-size reduction.

NIH Cut

The administration also proposed cutting $1.2 billion for research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

The document proposes more than $2.8 billion in cuts to "State and Foreign Operations," including a $99 million reduction to the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
Trump has called for a pause in refugee admissions to the U.S., and a reduction in the total number of refugees accepted into the country in the future.

"This program could absorb a $99 million reduction in FY 2017 because of lower projections in FY 2017 refugee admissions," the document reads.

The administration also proposed a $363 million cut in the United States Agency for International Development’s "Food for Peace" program, which provides food assistance in poor countries. The proposed cuts come as famine threatens four African and Middle Eastern countries simultaneously – Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria.

The proposal includes a reduction of $1.5 billion from the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Community Development Block Grant program, which the Trump administration proposed eliminating in its fiscal 2018 budget.

The White House also proposes eliminating almost all funding for the AmeriCorps State and National program, cutting $377 million from the $385 million appropriation.

"It is not a core function of the federal government to promote volunteerism and therefore these programs should be eliminated,” the document reads. "To the extent these activities have value, they should be supported by the private and nonprofit centers."

— With assistance by Justin Sink

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