Federal agencies face cuts as Trump looks to boost defence budget

By on 28/02/2017 | Updated on 24/09/2020
US President Donald Trump

US federal departments and agencies are facing up to $54 billion (£43bn or €51bn) of cuts as the country’s new president Donald Trump seeks to increase defence and security spending.

The White House yesterday sketched out the initial details of its spending plans for the 2018 fiscal year. At the top of a list is a $54 billion hike in defence spending to $603 billion, which will be matched by “dollar for dollar” cuts to environmental, foreign aid and other non-defence programmes.

Headline details of the budget blueprint were given by Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Budget Management, followed by an anonymous background briefing by White House officials to journalists.

According to widely reported details of this briefing, “most federal agencies” will see a reduction in their budgets as a consequence of the reprioritisation of defence spending.

For now Medicare and social security will be left untouched, meaning other areas of government will be expected to bear the brunt of the cuts to fund the defence budget boost, which amounts to around a 10% increase

Foreign aid and environmental protection are expected to feel the greatest pain, with the State Department and Environment Protection Agency reportedly facing budget cuts of 30% and 25% respectively. As the main conduit for US overseas spending, the State Department currently spends around $36 billion on foreign aid.

In interviews yesterday Trump reiterated one of his campaign promises of a big increase in infrastructure spending. Officials later refused to put a figure on what this would amount to, saying it would be part of the administration’s longer term budget planning.

Trump is expected to give further details of the budget and how it fits with his overall vision in his first speech to Congress later today.

The White House’s budget blueprint has been sent to agencies, beginning a period of horse-trading over how they will meet the envisaged cuts.

Mulvaney said he hopes the White House will have a full budget ready to present to Congress by March 16 and finished by early May.

But the early signs are that the budget will face a tough time at the hands of senators and representatives.

Nancy Pelosi, leader of Democrats in the House of Representatives, said: “President Trump’s budget blueprint is a prescription for America’s decline. Ransacking America’s investments in jobs and working families will make our nation weaker, not stronger. A $54 billion cut will do far-reaching and long-lasting damage to our ability to meet the needs of the American people and win the jobs of the future.

“The president is surrendering America’s leadership in innovation, education, science and clean energy.  President Trump has decided to put Wall Street First while abandoning working families.”

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See also:

US agency forges ahead with reforms to criminal record checks

US foreign service vacuum as Trump purges public servants

Trump’s Cabinet unfolds amid rumour and turmoil

Team Trump – what we know so far

What a Trump presidency means for other governments



About Ben Willis

Ben Willis is a journalist and editor with a varied background reporting on topics including public policy, the environment, renewable energy and international development. His work has appeared in a variety of national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, as well as numerous specialist business, policy and consumer publications.

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