Trump Budget Pushes Dramatic Cuts for R&D, Energy, Manufacturing Programs

March 20, 2017

President Trump has released his $1.1 trillion ‘skinny’ budget proposal to Congress, which includes overarching goals of providing large increases in defense spending and substantial increases for immigration enforcement and border security activities. To pay for these increases, the budget proposes dramatic cuts for almost every other area of government, including research and development, energy, education, manufacturing, and a host of other federal programs categorized under discretionary spending.

The budget includes a $54 billion increase for the Pentagon and a $2.89 billion increase for border security and immigration enforcement activities. At least one science and engineering area, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), would be largely safe, but most other programs in areas important to the science and engineering enterprise in the U.S. would see substantial budget cuts and program eliminations.

At the Department of Energy (DOE), the budget proposal would cut $1.7 billion overall, eliminating loans promoting innovation in clean energy technologies, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), as well as a cut of $900 million from the Office of Science, the part of DOE that supports the nation’s 17 national labs. Instead of funding breakthrough innovation models at DOE, the budget seeks instead to “elevate the private sector as better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.”

DOE funding would be focused on the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Nuclear Energy, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and the Fossil Energy Research and Development program on limited, early-stage applied energy research and development activities. In addition, there is support for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability’s capacity to carry out cybersecurity and grid resiliency activities that would help harden and evolve critical grid infrastructure.

In the area of environmental research, the budget asks for cuts of about $ 2.5 billion (31 percent) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which includes reductions in staffing of one fifth of the agency’s current workforce, elimination of many Energy Star, climate change, and state grant programs, as well as a 50 percent cut for EPA’s science and technology programs, many of which are geared at understanding environmental impacts on human health and well-being.

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) spending would be reduced by $5.8 billion to $25.9 billion total. The Budget includes a major reorganization of NIH’s Institutes and Centers to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities, including: eliminating the Fogarty International Center; consolidating the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within NIH; and other consolidations and structural changes across NIH organizations and activities. The budget also reduces administrative costs and rebalances Federal contributions to research funding.

In addition to cutting a number of science and engineering research programs, the budget would also cut programs aimed at boosting the U.S. manufacturing sector, including elimination of the $124 million Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. Currently, the MEP program provides funding for up to half the cost of State MEP centers, which provide consulting services to small- and medium-size manufacturers and would force a transition solely to non-Federal revenue sources.

Both Democrats and Republicans are signaling major concerns about the impact such dramatic cuts would have across the entire economy, with leaders on both sides of the aisle careful to point out that it’s Congress’ job to allocate funding and make spending decisions.

Under the continuing resolution that is funding the government through April 28, Congress could opt to keep the status quo in place for the remainder of fiscal 2017 with another five-month continuing resolution ending in September, the end of fiscal year 2017. Any spending bill would require 60 votes in the Senate for passage, so at least eight members of the Democratic caucus would have to lend their support to the majority party.

The full budget is available here:

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