How Trump’s Budget Plan Could Affect the Industry

March 20th, 2017 by Trey Barrineau

From the elimination of Energy Star to big cuts to funding for window research, President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal features several provisions that could affect fenestration industry.

First of all, it includes strong pledges to reduce regulations that hamper businesses.

“The American people deserve a regulatory system that works for them, not against them,” reads the White House document, titled America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again. “A system that is both effective and efficient.”

The document notes that Trump has already issued two executive orders in this area. One freezes new regulations; another orders federal agencies to “eliminate at least two existing regulations for each new regulation they issue.”

Over-regulation has been a major concern in the homebuilding industry. For example, a recent study from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that regulations add about 24.3 percent to the cost of constructing a residence.

It’s important to remember that Trump’s plan is just that — a plan. The final budget will be decided by Congress, and it could look a lot different from these proposals.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the budgetary plan for each federal department and how it  could affect the door and window industry.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The president’s 2018 budget plan cuts funds by 13.2 percent to $40.7 billion. However, in a move that could raise the ire of the door and window industry, the proposal increases funding by $20 million for the mitigation of lead-based paint in low-income homes, especially those in which children reside.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has administered the Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (RRP) since 2008. The RRP rule requires any renovation work — including door and window replacements — that disturbs more than six square feet of a pre-1978 home’s interior to follow rigorous and costly work practices to protect residents from exposure to lead, which is especially dangerous for young children. The work must be supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and performed by an EPA-certified renovation firm.

Groups such as the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) argue that the extra cost associated with lead-abatement procedures is preventing many homeowners  in older residences from replacing their windows, which often aren’t energy-efficient products.

The lack of an accurate test kit for lead paint has also been a major point of contention. According to the EPA, approved test kits for the RRP Rule have a failure rate of between 22.5 percent and 84 percent, and WDMA says false positives have led to millions of dollars in extra costs for homeowners.

In July 2010, EPA removed the “Opt-Out Provision” from the rule, which allowed homeowners without children under six or pregnant women residing in the home to allow their contractor to bypass lead-safe work practices. By removing the opt-out provision, EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the RRP rule.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The budget plan would reduce the EPA’s funding by 31 percent. To achieve these big cuts, the Trump administration would eliminate more than 50 programs, including Energy Star. The plan would cut Energy Star’s budget down to just $5 million “for the closeout or transfer of all the climate protection voluntary partnership programs,” according to a report from E&E News. Energy Star currently spends about $57 million a year, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Department of Energy (DOE)

Trump is looking to cut the budget for the DOE by 5.6 percent, or $1.7 billion. It will do this by eliminating the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds research into energy-efficient windows. The budget plan also aims to focus funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) on “limited, early-stage applied energy research and development activities where the federal role is stronger,” the document says. (EERE is also reportedly being targeted for big cuts.) The budget would also eliminate the Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program, which provide funds for upgrades such as new windows for lower-income households.

Department of Labor (DOL)

The 2018 budget would decrease by 21 percent to $9.6 billion. Among the cuts would be the closing of some poor-performing Job Corps centers for disadvantaged youth and other training programs. It would also eliminate the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training grants. The budget also includes a provision to help states expand apprenticeship programs, which the plan calls “an evidence-based approach to preparing workers for jobs.”

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The president’s budget would cut funding by 5 percent to $826.5 million; however, it would still support more than $45 billion in loan guarantees for small businesses.

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