Trump’s Budget Cuts Rejected by Congressional Committees

July 14th, 2017 by Trey Barrineau

The federal government’s budgeting process for 2018 continued this week as congressional committees worked on appropriations bills that will be voted on this fall. As expected, many of President Trump’s budget requests did not make the cut, including the steep 31-percent reduction in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The House Appropriations Committee bill seeks to fund the EPA at $7.5 billion, $1.9 billion above the president’s request for 2018. However, the bill does make many cuts, and it includes language about “reshaping” the agency’s workforce “by providing resources requested to offer buyouts and voluntary separation agreements to employees.”

Additionally, the bill will get rid of many regulations at the EPA. For example, it includes language authorizing the withdrawal of the Waters of the United States rule, an Obama-era regulation that was widely viewed as a burden on the construction industry because the approval process added costs and time to projects.

But the bill doesn’t say anything about the Energy Star program, which the Trump administration is seeking to eliminate or privatize. (Energy Star is currently funded at $66 million for the 2017 fiscal year.) The program’s fate could be part of budget debates in Congress in the coming weeks as it works to pass a comprehensive spending bill before the end of September and avoid a government shutdown.

Department of Energy

The efficiency programs within the Department of Energy (DOE) will be funded at $9.6 billion. That’s $2.3 billion higher than the president’s request. According to the bill, “funding within the accounts is targeted to encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and help advance the nation’s goal of an ‘all-of-the-above’ solution to energy independence.”

But the recommendation does not include any money for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA—E), which funds research into energy-efficient windows. ARPA-E would close shop for good in 2019.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said it wasn’t an easy decision to get rid of ARPA-E.

“I certainly understand the concern that members have on the elimination of ARPA-E,” he said. “This is one of the difficult choices that had to be made in this bill. I happen to like ARPA-E, but our nation’s defense and infrastructure are the top priorities of this bill, and tough choices needed to be made.”

However, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and other related programs stand to receive $278 million in 2018. That’s about the same as the current budget. WAP helps low-income families improve the energy efficiency of their homes by funding upgrades such as new windows.

Other Agencies

Department of Labor (DOL): The bill provides a total of $10.8 billion in discretionary appropriations for DOL. The administration had requested $9.7 billion. The bill funds job-training programs and labor enforcement, though it does cut funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by $21 million.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD): The bill sets out a total of $38.3 billion for HUD,  $6.9 billion more than the administration’s request.

Small Business Administration (SBA): The bill contains $848 million for the SBA. That’s $48 million more than President Trump’s request. This includes full funding – $156 million – to support $36.5 billion in various types of existing small-business loans. It also includes $186 million for disaster loan implementation and $12 million for veterans programs.

 

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