Today's guest writer is Bill Ferguson, chairman of The Ferguson Group, LLC, which specializes in representing local governments before Congress and the Administration. Bill discusses the Trump Administration's budget and its impact on grants for local governments and nonprofits.
The Waiting Period
Although the FY 2018 budget and appropriations process has yet to officially begin, the new Trump Administration is preparing its FY 2018 Presidential budget request, which is expected to be released around March 14th. Once the President’s budget request is released and submitted to Congress, lawmakers will be faced with the difficult task of weighing their own priorities against the President’s request. Ultimately, Congress will determine the overall spending levels in the budget resolution and spending levels for each discretionary program through the appropriations process.
Recent publications have reported that President Trump is considering incorporating some significant budget cuts and policy changes into his FY 2018 budget request. Many of the program proposed cuts have a long history harking back to the Reagan Administration, the Republican “revolution” of 1994 under Speaker Newt Gingrich, and more recently by the Heritage Foundation’s Blue Print for Reform meant to impact the 2017 budget. Most have been largely rejected on a bipartisan basis in past budget battles.
However, this does not mean that domestic programs important to public agencies across the country will not come under heavy pressure when Congress begins considering FY 2018 appropriations in a few months. Even if many of the recommendations are not likely to be embraced by Congress, the discretionary portion of the budget will come under increasing pressure as the Trump Administration and Congress seek to reduce overall federal spending. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-SC, the president’s Director of Office and Management and Budget (OMB), gave further evidence of this in his confirmation hearing when he reiterated his plan to seek a 10 percent cut in discretionary spending in FY 2018.
Programs that May Be Affected
What we know right now is that there is a hit list of programs to be eliminated: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps, the National Endowments for Arts and Humanities, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Export –Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
There will be an effort to reduce the budgets of all domestic agencies by 10% and maybe more once the individual agencies come under scrutiny by the Administration and Congress.
This all sounds dire but we’ve been there before and it’s time to fight for those programs that are meaningful and important to you.
Things to Remember
Every program under pressure has a constituency both within the House and the Senate; there is a reason they’ve survived, and new programs have been initiated. This constituency extends across the country including people intimately affected by those programs. Someone worked hard to get them enacted and as the appropriations process moves forward they will be fighting to keep many of these programs. It’s extremely important that you join the battle for the programs that are meaningful to you and your local governments. There will be cuts but there may be some new opportunities like the infrastructure program promised during the campaign.
The Good Fight