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Trump’s Opening Budget Bid Would Refocus Priorities

Damian Kunko, Friday, March 17, 2017

President Donald Trump on Thursday unveiled the first portion of his fiscal 2018 budget request, a discretionary spending plan that includes new funds for a military buildup and cuts to federal agencies likely to be resisted by lawmakers on both sides.

Here are the quick highlights for how key program changes could impact SMI client interests.

  • DOE gets a 5.6% cut, but the depths of cuts are masked because internally the nuclear weapons stockpile programs get a boost of 11%. Thus the rest of Energy is cut by 17.9%. It eliminates ARPA-E, eliminates the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, cuts the Office of Science by $900 million,  strangles EERE among others. No mention of labs, innovation hubs, or computing -- but we should expect major cuts.  
  • At USDA, which gets an overall 21% cut, the budget does say it "Continues to support farmer-focused research and extension partnerships at land-grant universities and provides about $350 million for USDA’s flagship competitive research program." But also uses language to say it cuts funding for the AG Research Service without saying by how much. 
  • No mention of NSF -- but the agencies not mentioned will be cut on average by 9.8%
  • At commerce, it zeroes out the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP)
  • NIH is cut by nearly $6 billion, about a fifth of the NIH budget -- while also fundamentally reorganizing NIH.

This is the starting position for negotiating with the hill, and it won't become the actual budget. It will however create a storm of stories and anxious activity across the board as everyone tries to save what they have.  In the end, our friends on the Hill will have many competing priorities that they will be looking out for -- making it hard to save every one of them.  And given the nature of the Senate, it seems unlikely that the they will be able to come to agreement this year on such a major redirection of the budget – making a continuing resolution more than likely.  That said, we will continue to advocate for our client's priorities related to valuable research programs.



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