President’s FY 2018 Budget Proposes Cuts to NASA, NIH, NSF; Drops NEA and NEH

On May 23, President Trump released the first full budget proposal of his presidency. The fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget proposal, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” seeks roughly $3.6 trillion in federal spending cuts over the next 10 years. For FY 2018, defense spending would rise to $668 billion, $22 billion above current levels; nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending would fall to $479 billion, a $57 billion decrease from current levels. The push for parity between defense and NDD spending programs does not appear to resonate with the Trump administration.

As for the proposal’s support for research, it would fund the National Science Foundation at $5.361 billion, a significant cut from the enacted level for FY 2017 of $7.472 billion. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would see $19.1 billion, a cut of more than $550 million from the current enacted level of $19.653 billion. The proposal also seeks massive cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The proposed level of $25.9 billion is roughly $8 billion less than the enacted level of $34.084 billion and raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers successfully boosted NIH by $2 billion less than a month ago in a bipartisan manner. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are both slated for elimination in the plan, receiving only a nominal amount of funding for expenses necessary for their would-be closure. At the Department of Education, the Federal Work-Study Program would see a $490 million cut, which is a reduction of almost half. The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are targets for complete elimination.

The response from Congress has been predictable—from cuts to NIH to other programs of importance to Members on both sides of the aisle, there has been a chorus of objections and a perennial reminder that a president’s budget request is just a suggestion. It is Congress that wields the true power of the purse. This week, the House of Representatives will begin formal hearings in the Appropriations Committee, and the Senate is expected to start formal committee action after the Memorial Day recess.



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