The Budget in Brief
The writers at our sister publication Congressional Quarterly have scoured President Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget, department by department, for the most significant proposal. Here are some highlights of the documents submitted Tuesday. You can find the full reports at www.cq.com.
The administration is requesting $127 million in mandatory funding to launch a permanent national program that would provide summer food money to low-income families; the program would eventually grow to $12 billion over 10 years. In addition to the new meal proposal, the $24.6 billion spending plan for the Department of Agriculture makes final bids for increased spending on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, trimming federal spending on crop insurance and the way the federal government pays for combating wildfires.
The Commerce Department would continue coordinating a multi-agency initiative to expand a network of manufacturing institutes, which are designed to help build workforce skills and enhance manufacturing capabilities. The overall budget proposed Tuesday for the Commerce would be $9.7 billion in fiscal 2017 budget authority. Funding is also proposed for modernizing data collection and the accuracy of key economic statistics in the Census Bureau.
The proposed $582.5 billion Pentagon budget would double the money dedicated to fighting the Islamic State terrorist organization and quadruple spending on military equipment, training and a continuous U.S. troop presence in Europe. About $1.8 billion would go to purchase more than 45,000 more satellite-guided smart bombs and laser-guided rockets.
Children would have greater access to preschool and Head Start, schools would provide more computer education and some students would attend community college tuition free, under the $69.4 billion budget proposal the administration submitted for the Department of Education. The budget seeks to ensure states and local governments are equipped to take the lead in early learning.
Clean energy research and development would get a boost in the $30.2 billion budget request for the Department of Energy, which calls for $600 million in additional discretionary spending compared to fiscal 2016 estimated spending. The total request amounts to $32.5 billion when the $2.3 billion in mandatory funding is added to the discretionary funding.
Health and Human Services
The National Institutes of Health would see another boost in its budget, following the historic funding increase that Congress bestowed in the omnibus spending bill last year. The biomedical research center would receive $33.1 billion in the spending plan, and the National Cancer Institute would receive $5.9 billion, part of which would pay for the “moonshot” initiative being headed by Vice President Joe Biden. Health and Human Services would be allotted $82.8 billion in discretionary funding, down slightly from the previous year.
The budget proposal would essentially hold level spending for the Department of Homeland Security even as public fears over perceived threats to the country have spiked. The White House request would set aside $40.6 billion in discretionary funding for DHS, the sprawling department that leads efforts to protect the nation’s ports, borders, infrastructure and airports. The agency would receive a sliver of the $19 billion that the administration is proposing for cybersecurity enhancements.
Housing and Urban Development
The administration proposes spending $11 billion over the next decade to combat family homelessness, as well as seeking legislation to overhaul the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s core rental assistance programs. The budget also includes $950 million for grants to states and local governments that would increase affordable housing and expand home ownership for low-income Americans. HUD’s budget calls for $48.9 billion in discretionary spending and $11.3 billion in mandatory spending.
The administration proposes a $2 billion, 10-year Interior Department program to boost resources for coastal communities to respond to climate change impact, including $400 million for Alaska. The new Coastal Climate Resilience Fund would cover such actions as relocating entire towns. The costs would be offset by repealing a 2006 law that directs an increased portion of federal offshore oil and gas revenues to four Gulf of Mexico states. Overall, the department would receive stay-the-course funding, with $13.4 billion in discretionary authority.
The Justice Department would receive $500 million a year for what the administration called a “21st Century Justice Initiative” over the next 10 years. The initiative would aim to reduce violent crime, reversing policies that “have led to unnecessarily long sentences and unnecessary incarceration,” and building community trust in police. That would include $97 million put toward training and oversight of local law enforcement. Overall the $29 billion funding proposal for the department is slightly lower than the past year’s.
Job training for youth gets top billing in the budget request for the Department of Labor, with nearly $6 billion in new funding requested for employment training, apprenticeship programs and partnerships with private companies.The budget request would provide $12.8 billion in discretionary budget authority for the department, which includes funding for the federal government’s workforce initiatives as well as agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Responding to threats from the Islamic State and Russia, caring for refugees and reducing migration from Central America are four of the major themes in the $50 billion budget request for the State Department and other international assistance. The budget seeks $4 billion to strengthen the ability of Middle Eastern partners “for political, economic, public diplomacy… to build resilience and reduce vulnerabilities to Russian aggression among NATO allies and partner states in Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia.”
The proposed budget would boost funding for two key agencies charged with regulating Wall Street: The Securities and Exchange Commission would get $1.8 billion in fiscal 2017, an 11 percent increase from this year’s level. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission would received $330 million, a 31 percent increase. The Treasury Department would get $13.1 billion for its operations, up 4 percent from the previous year’s. The total Treasury budget, including international assistance programs, would be $15.5 billion.
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