By Eric Katz, Government Executive
President Trump requested an array of cuts in his fiscal 2018 budget to arrive at $54 billion in overall reductions in domestic agency discretionary spending.
He proposed eliminating entirely 19 independent agencies, though the real meat in terms of dollars came from inside Cabinet-level agencies. By the White House’s estimate, Trump proposed cutting hundreds of programs entirely. More than 50 activities would be on the chopping block at the Environmental Protection Agency alone, though that accounts for only 0.6 percent of the total cuts.
The White House defended most of the program cuts by saying they have not lived up to their stated purpose, or they fail to demonstrate evidence of their success. In some cases, the programs simply do not align with Trump’s priorities.
“Every agency and department will be driven to achieve greater efficiency and to eliminate wasteful spending in carrying out their honorable service to the American people,” Trump wrote in his budget.
Ultimately, Congress will have final say in how agencies fund their programs, and many activities that enjoy bipartisan support are likely to survive. Here’s a look at the 10 largest programs Trump proposed to eliminate and their fiscal 2017 appropriation.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program ($3.4B):
Trump’s budget proposed cutting 18 percent of the Health and Human Services Department’s fiscal 2018 budget, in part by eliminating LIHEAP. The reduction would account for nearly one-quarter of the overall cuts at HHS. LIHEAP, created in 1981, subsidizes energy costs for low-income families and is run by HHS’ Administration for Children and Families. The program makes up 6 percent of the budget for ACF, which employs more than 1,300 individuals. Trump would also eliminate the Energy Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program, a $121 million program that works in conjunction with LIHEAP by helping low-income families reduce energy consumption by making their homes more energy efficient.
Community Development Block Grant ($3B):
One of the Housing and Urban Development Department’s most high-profile projects provides grants to state and local governments for infrastructure, housing and other public services. The program, created in 1974, represents about half of Trump’s proposed cuts at HUD. It is administered by HUD’s Community Planning and Development office, which has its own assistant secretary and employs 258 people. The block grant program makes up about 45 percent of the CPD budget.
Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants Program ($2.4B):
The Education Department would absorb more than 25 percent of its cuts through the elimination of this program, which provides funding to state and local education agencies to hire more teachers and principals and to improve their quality and effectiveness. The program falls under the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, which has 244 employees.
Global Climate Change Initiative ($1.3B):
Obama created this initiative in response to United Nations agreements reached in 2009 and 2010. Administered by the State Department, it has integrated climate change priorities into U.S. foreign assistance. Eliminating the initiative would also affect programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Treasury Department. State and Treasury rely on the UN and other international organizations to implement the program.
21st Century Community Learning Centers Program ($1.2B):
Trump proposed significantly increasing funding for school choice initiatives such as charter schools and vouchers for private institutions, leading to significant cuts at the rest of the Education Department. The community learning centers help “high-need” schools implement in and out-of-school activities in non-school hours, such as expanded learning time programs. The program is administered in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s office of Academic Improvement. Trump’s proposal to cut funding for after-school programs caused a significant stir in the days since he released his budget.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program ($732M):
The third Education Department program in the 10 largest proposed cuts would eliminate funding for undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to receive up to $4,000 per academic year. It is administered in Education’s Federal Student Aid office, which houses about one-third of the department’s 4,300 employees. Colleges and universities partially match the federal funding, which provides assistance to 1.6 million students.
Community Services Block Grants ($715M):
Like LIHEAP, CSBG is administered by HHS’ Administration for Children and families. The program aims to “alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities,” such as employment, education, nutrition and emergency services. CSBG has staff at 10 different regions throughout the country, as well at ACF’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Together with LIHEAP, Trump’s elimination of CSBG would zero-out ACF’s office of Community Services’ discretionary programs altogether.
Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant ($499M):
TIGER grants fund local transportation projects that are “difficult to fund through traditional federal programs.” The funding must go to construction rather than design and planning with grants awarded on a competitive basis. Obama created the Transportation Department program in 2009.
Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program ($498M):
The largest cut at the Agriculture Department eliminates a program that helps rural households and businesses obtain reliable drinking water systems, sanitary waste and sewage disposal and storm water drainage. It is administered by USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utility Service, which employs 265 individuals.
Senior Community Service Employment Program ($434M):
The Labor Department’s largest cut would eliminate a program designed to help low-income, unemployed seniors engage in job training. It was created in 1965 and allows older Americans to participate in activities at schools, hospitals, day-care centers and other facilities. Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, which has 1,100 employees, runs the program.
Agencies with increasing reprogramming potential are candidates to support President Trump’s reform agenda in the near-term. Agencies such as EPA and Education are already in the Administration’s sights as President Trump’s proposed budget attempts to reprioritize spending.