On March 11, 2019, the White House issued President Trump’ proposed spending plan for the federal government in 2020. Entitled “A Budget for a Better America,” the budget proposal calls for increased military spending, aggressive savings measures to cut spending on safety-net programs, and more than $100 billion a year in cuts to domestic programs for the next decade.
The President’s budget is not binding, and has in practice been largely ignored by Congress for the past two years. And with the new Democratic majority in the House, actual spending levels should be expected to deviate even further from the President’s suggestions. But it can be read as an indicator of the President’s policy goals, and how the Executive Branch agencies under his direction will prioritize their work in the coming year.
As in the past two years, President Trump has called for major cuts in funding for science and the scientific and technical agencies, including cutting budgets for the National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by 12%, 12% and 30%, respectively. The proposed NASA budget only decreases by 2.2%, but science programs within the agency are cut by 5-20%.
In the past two years, Congress has largely overridden the President when it comes to science funding. In 2018, the President proposed cutting the NIH budget by 18%, but in the end Congress increased the Institute’s funding by 8.8% - the largest increase in 15 years. In 2019, he proposed a roughly 4% decrease in funding to NIH, but Congress once again voted for a similar increase. When it comes to funding the basic science and science research, continued Congressional support should be expected, despite the President’s expressed preferences.