1. Statement
  2. Criminal Justice, Economic Justice, Immigrants & Refugees, U.S. Wars & Militarism

Congress Needs to Reject the President’s Budget and Construct a Different Future for our Nation

By Diane Randall, March 11, 2019

President Donald Trump’s proposed FY 2020 budget lays out a disturbing vision for the future of our country that offers billions more for war, walls, and detention at the expense of our families, our health, and our safety.

The fiscal year 2020 budget proposals delivered to Congress in early March would cut already insufficient spending on non-military programs by trillions of dollars in the next ten years, while using the off-budget Overseas Contingency Operations funding gimmick to again raise Pentagon spending.

As a matter of faith, our FCNL community rejects this grim proposal for the future. We will work with Congress to develop spending priorities that value every human being, protect fundamental rights, and invest in proven programs to prevent wars, violent conflict and coercion.

As a matter of faith, our FCNL community rejects this grim proposal for the future. We will work with Congress to develop spending priorities that value every human being, protect fundamental rights, and invest in proven programs to prevent wars, violent conflict and coercion.

The good news is that the president’s budget is just the opening act of the FY 2020 budget process. A budget agreement to lift existing caps on spending is one of the only major pieces of legislation Congress will pass this year and that will be the critical point for Congress will make decisions about the future.

We call on Congress to ensure that the budget agreement reflects the moral priorities of our nation. The implications are widespread and affect everything from early childhood education, nutrition assistance for poor infants and new moms, environmental protection, disability services, food safety inspections, reentry services, housing assistance, health care, child care assistance, diplomacy and conflict prevention, and legal assistance to immigrant detention, border militarization, war spending, and weapons systems.

Reject the President’s Budget

A first step will be for all members of Congress to reject the president’s proposed cuts to non-defense spending as extreme and unwise. With inflation and growing needs for people in need—from veteran’s health to the Census—non-defense spending will need to increase at least $26 billion above FY 2019 levels just to take care of existing programs and commitments. Congress also needs to state clearly that the administration’s budget forecasts of cutting non-defense spending by one-third by the end of the decade cannot stand.

The budget documents delivered March 11 do not show the president’s plans to allocate specific funds beyond the headlines. But based on statements from administration officials, we understand the budget will cut nutrition, housing, and other assistance programs by hundreds of billions of dollars. It cuts the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education each by 12 percent and the Environmental Protection Agency by a third. This is paired with massive increases in failed strategies focused on immigration detention, enforcement, and border militarization.

President Trump's budget also proposes investing $750 billion in war spending–an inflation-adjusted sum above what our country spent at the height of the Vietnam war. To achieve this increase while cutting expenditures on nearly everything else, the White House is proposing dumping $174 billion into emergency spending and the off-budget Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) that was initially created as a temporary way to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This proposed amount is two and a half times what was enacted for OCO in 2019 and is a gimmick designed to avoid oversight and effective review. Endless Pentagon spending produces endless war. And endless war produces endless Pentagon spending.

The president’s budget is a values statement. The president’s budget declares that the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security should be able to forever balloon their budgets with nearly zero accountability. It expands America’s sinful system of mass incarceration by jailing a vastly increasing number of immigrants and asylum seekers. These proposals would fund further discrimination and elevate a false security of white nationalism.

Congress controls the power of the purse. As the budget process moves forward, we call on Congress to negotiate a bipartisan budget agreement that invests in long-underfunded programs. It is time for Congress to invest in struggling communities throughout the country. This includes major funding for low-income housing assistance, infrastructure, and environmental protection. It is time for Congress to stop instinctively swelling an already overly bloated and unaccountable Pentagon budget, especially through gimmicks like the OCO slush fund.

A budget vision that outlines a path with values that focus on human needs and human dignity will most certainly lead to a safer, stronger, and more prosperous country and world.

Pentagon Spending 

Congress and the Trump administration agreed to spend $746 billion on wars and the military for the fiscal year running through September 2020. That is nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars. More than $2 billion every day. More than $1 million every minute.

Diane Randall

  • General Secretary

Diane Randall is the General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Diane leads FCNL’s staff to effectively educate and lobby for the policies and legislative priorities established by FCNL’s General Committee. A lifelong advocate for peace and social justice, Diane is a fierce proponent for citizen engagement that advances policies and practices to create a better society for all.