1. Update
  2. Economic Justice, Environment & Energy, Immigrants & Refugees, Nuclear Weapons, Peacebuilding

The President’s Budget is Out: Here are Five Areas of Concern

By Amelia Kegan, Diana Ohlbaum, February 11, 2020


Perhaps the best thing that can be said about President Trump’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2021 is that Congress will likely ignore it.

FCNL believes that the president’s FY21 budget proposal neither advances the health and well-being of our nation nor reflects the moral values and principles of our people.

That’s true for the House, at least – although some of the most disturbing elements of the request, such as excessive Pentagon spending levels, are already locked in by prior agreement between both parties and branches. Others, such as major cuts in domestic programs—including education, environmental protection, infrastructure, scientific research, housing, nutrition, and much more—are in clear violation of those same agreements.

The president’s budget would cut non-defense spending by more than 25 percent over the next decade. While we continue our detailed analysis of the budget, we can point to five major areas of concern:

1. Huge cuts to diplomacy and aid to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

The president proposed a 22 percent overall cut in foreign assistance and support to diplomacy. The largest reductions come from refugee and humanitarian assistance, contributions to the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, peacekeeping operations, people-to-people exchanges, and global health programs. Last year, Congress rejected the administration’s proposed cuts to international programs, increasing it instead by almost $500 million. We hope and expect they will do the same this year.

2. Major spike in nuclear weapons spending.

On the heels of deploying a dangerous new submarine-launched nuclear warhead, the Trump administration is seeking a 25 percent or a $3 billion increase, for the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons work. It also requested $29 billion for the Department of Defense missiles, bombers, submarines, and other systems for delivering these mass-destruction weapons.

3. Drastic reductions in critical clean energy and environmental programs.

The proposal cuts nearly 27 percent from the Environmental Protection Agency, despite the strong, bipartisan rejection of similar cuts over the past several years. There remains broad congressional support to continue funding programs like ENERGY Star, renewable energy and energy efficiency, climate resilience, and research and development.

4. Attacks on the social safety net.

The president’s FY21 budget calls for enormous cuts to key anti-poverty programs. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) would be reduced by more than $180 billion over the next decade. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) would be cut by more than $15 billion and disability programs by $20 billion over ten years. In addition, millions of Americans will lose their health coverage if Congress approves the president’s proposal to cut Medicaid and Affordable Care Act tax credits by $1 trillion over a decade.

5. Expansion of cruel immigration enforcement and restrictive refugee policies.

The president’s plan would escalate the militarized, punitive, and unjust policies of family separation, migrant detention and deportation, border wall construction, and refugee bans. It requests funds for 60,000 daily detention beds and 2,844 additional agents to carry out deportations, a 24 percent increase overall from current levels. The proposal also includes 800 more Border Patrol agents along with 82 miles of additional border wall that will cost $2 billion. This is in addition to the more than $7 billion the president has already said he will transfer from previously-approved Pentagon funds for border wall construction.

FCNL believes that the president’s FY21 budget proposal neither advances the health and well-being of our nation nor reflects the moral values and principles of our people. These harmful proposals clearly underscore Congress’s essential role in the annual budget and appropriations process. None of them can make it into law without congressional approval.

In the coming months, congressional committees will hold hearings on the FY21 budget and develop their own funding priorities. We will keep you updated so you can know when, where, and how your voice can exert the greatest influence in shaping a budget that leads toward the world we seek.

Amelia Kegan

  • Legislative Director, Domestic Policy

Amelia Kegan leads the domestic policy team's work in analyzing legislation, advocating on Capitol Hill, and developing legislative strategy. Prior to coming to FCNL, Amelia worked at a variety of other national non-profits in D.C. and Chicago, focusing on federal budget, tax, and low-income policy.

Diana Ohlbaum

  • Senior Strategist and Legislative Director for Foreign Policy

Diana Ohlbaum directs FCNL’s foreign policy lobbying team and leads an effort to replace the current U.S. foreign policy paradigm of military domination and national superiority with a more ethical and effective one based on cooperation and mutual respect.