President Donald Trump plans to cut civilian agency 2020 budgets as the White House plans a sweeping long-term reduction in spending to balance the federal budget in 15 years, according to the Trump administration budget proposal released March 11.
Under the White House’s budget, the government would spend $4.7 trillion in 2020, with non-defense agencies receiving a 9 percent cut from the spending cap level in fiscal 2019, according to a senior administration official that spoke to reporters on a March 11 call.
The White House is asking Congress to enact $2.7 trillion of spending reductions in savings and reforms, the largest spending cut proposal of any administration, according to the official.
The budget cuts come primarily in the realm of discretionary spending, where Congress has more room to make funding changes, instead of mandatory spending, which includes programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Of the major federal agencies listed, most received reductions from their estimated 2019 budgets, with the Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency the hardest hit at 31 percent of their budgets lost.
The Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and NASA all received budget increases over the estimated 2019 numbers.
The budget also includes $8.6 billion for a border wall, a $50 billion school choice initiative, $200 billion in transportation and broadband infrastructure, and a work requirement for individuals between 18 and 65 years old that receive benefits from federal welfare programs.
“In the last two years, President Trump and this administration have prioritized reining in reckless Washington spending. The budget that we have presented to Congress and the American people, ‘A Budget for a Better America,’ embodies fiscal responsibility and takes aim at Washington’s waste, fraud and abuse,” said Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russ Vought in a news release.
“Our national debt nearly doubled under the previous administration and now stands at more than $22 trillion. This budget shows that we can return to fiscal sanity without halting our economic resurgence while continuing to invest in critical priorities. President Trump’s budget for 2020 will balance in 15 years, end runaway spending, and secure prosperity for future generations.”
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government is expected to spend $4.4 trillion in 2019 while bringing in a revenue of $3.5 trillion, resulting in approximately $897 billion being added to the deficit.
The president’s 2020 budget relies on projected U.S. economic increases driven by 2017 tax cut legislation, which the 2020 budget proposal would make permanent, to boost tax revenue in the coming years and ultimately balance the budget by 2035.
The 2020 budget was initially supposed to be released in early February of this year, but the 35-day shutdown that spanned the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 delayed the release by a month.
The president’s budget proposal is not the be-all end-all of federal spending, as Congress has the option to — and nearly always does — change the the budget totals for the final appropriations legislation it is supposed to pass by the end of September each year.
This budget proposal is likely to see opposition from the Democrat-controlled House, especially over border wall funding, the debate for which caused the most recent government shutdown.
Editor’s note: this story has been updated to include additional details.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.