President Joe Biden has released his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024. A president’s budget rarely becomes law. Rather, it is a blueprint intended to inform members of Congress as they write legislation to fund the government for the coming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
Nevertheless, it is a helpful window into what the president and his party value and what they will prioritize as lawmakers craft their budget and appropriations bills. This will be especially important this year when we expect some of the most contentious and consequential policy decisions emerging from Capitol Hill will center on federal spending.
Below is an analysis by FCNL’s policy experts outlining what we saw in the President’s plan.
A Strong Commitment to Addressing Poverty and Supporting Families
The President outlined plans to help low-income individuals and families, including investments in programs like paid family leave and expanded childcare, health care, and housing assistance. He also sought to update the tax code to ensure that corporations and the super-wealthy pay their fair share.
His support for expanding the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit was most encouraging. These programs were proven effective at reducing poverty when they were temporarily expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. Congress failed to make these changes permanent after they expired, and it is heartening to see that the White House has not flagged in its commitment.
Global Climate Solidarity
As one of history’s worst emitters of greenhouse gases, the United States has a moral responsibility to aid the countries that are now bearing the impacts of the climate crisis. The President’s blueprint recommends that Congress invest approximately $5 billion to help lower-income countries implement their climate goals and ensure a just energy transition. This is a good start but represents just half of what the United States pledged at the most recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP27).
Support for Violence Interruption Programs
What if I told you that a program exists that can make neighborhoods safer, prevent gun violence, and reduce the over-policing of Black, brown, and low-income communities? Violence interruption programs have been shown to do just that. Support for federal investments in these community-based initiatives has been growing. We were encouraged to see the President calling on lawmakers to increase funding by 300% over FY2023 levels for the Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative.
Meaningful Progress for Peacebuilding Efforts
Today, the world faces some of the highest levels of violence and more active armed conflicts than at any point since the end of World War II. We can save lives, prevent suffering, and save U.S. taxpayer dollars by investing in peace. Encouragingly the President called for 11% more money in FY2024 to support diplomacy and foreign assistance. While he did not include specific funding for key peacebuilding accounts at the levels we had hoped, Congress can.
Missing the Mark on Migration Management
Increasingly, the Biden administration appears to be leaning toward a militarized and inhumane response to migration, relying on many of the tools instituted by his predecessor, President Donald Trump. This budget framework reflected that by emphasizing funding for enforcement, with too little attention to the needs of people terrorized by the immigration enforcement machine, caught in limbo by the massive backlog of asylum applications, and in need of humanitarian response upon arriving to the United States. While the President’s request fell short, there is an opportunity before Congress: It’s time for lawmakers to shift their approach and invest in just, efficient, and humane migration management.
(Even) More Money for Weapons and War
Endless money fuels endless war, often at the expense of human needs at home and abroad. Yet the President’s budget calls for a colossal topline defense budget of $842 billion. Members of Congress are likely to push for an even higher number, perpetuating a cycle of evermore unchecked Pentagon spending that we—along with a growing bipartisan group of lawmakers—are working to reverse.
What Comes Next?
The federal budget is a moral document that makes clear our priorities as a nation. Where we allocate resources says everything about what and whom we value.
With this budget framework now out, House lawmakers are crafting their bill to establish the overall size of the budget. Their decisions will determine how much money is available for programs millions of people depend on.
We must establish a budget with enough funding to invest meaningfully in critical nutrition, peacebuilding, migration management, community violence intervention, and climate programs—and not just funnel more money into weapons and war.