Some Agencies On Trump’s Kill List Push Back
Many targeted agencies issued statements arguing for the value of their work.
The language in President Trump’s “skinny budget” released on Thursday was clear: It called for closing 19 small agencies to help offset a spending increase for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments as well as some elements of Homeland Security.
Many of those targeted agencies, especially the ones accustomed to life in the budget hawks’ crosshairs, issued statements expressing their disappointment and reiterating arguments for the value of their mission and work. Others declined to comment, and a few simply repeated the news that their agency is on the chopping block. While some agencies splashed their statements on their website home pages, others responded more quietly. Some may feel freer to protest, depending on their current leaders and their relationship to the Trump White House.
What follows is a list of how each targeted agency reacted, based on their websites and reporting by Government Executive:
The African Development Foundation, an independent agency that establishes targeted development programs in underserved parts of Africa, issued no statement Thursday, though it posted a justification document for fiscal 2017 appropriations.
The Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development agency created in 1965 to work in partnership with federal, state, and local governments, posted a straight news announcement saying “elimination is proposed” for it and other commissions, pending further consideration by Congress.
The Chemical Safety Board posted a statement from Chairman Vanessa Allen Sutherland saying the independent investigative board “is disappointed to see the president’s budget proposal to eliminate the agency . . . Our investigations and recommendations have had an enormous effect on improving public safety . . . As this process moves forward, we hope that the important mission of this agency will be preserved.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs AmeriCorps/VISTA and other volunteer programs for improving fellow citizens’ lives, did not acknowledge the budget announcement.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting posted a statement from President and CEO Patricia Harrison, saying, “There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services. The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions—for Americans in both rural and urban communities.”
The Delta Regional Authority posted a statement from its Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill vowing to fight, saying, “Since being created by Congress in 2000, DRA has been the leading advocate for supporting job creation, building communities, and improving lives across the eight states and 252 counties and parishes we serve in the Mississippi River Delta region and the Black Belt of Alabama . . . You cannot advocate for infrastructure development and economic security in rural America without also supporting the mechanisms, such as DRA, that make those projects a reality.”
The Denali Commission, created in 1998 to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support throughout Alaska, posted a neutral statement noting that Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget “does not include funding for four operating regional commissions.” It added that “a trip to Washington, D.C., had already been scheduled for next week (March 21-25). We will now reach out to the federal Office of Management and Budget for further guidance on the next steps for the agency.”
The Institute of Museum and Library Services posted a statement from Director Kathryn Matthew saying the grant support from her 20-year-old agency “enables museums and libraries to offer learning experiences for students and families, as well as to increase care for, and access to, the nation’s collections that are entrusted to museums and libraries by the public . . . We will continue to remain steadfast in our work on behalf of the millions of Americans touched by the services of libraries and museums each day.”
The Inter-American Foundation, created in 1969 to give grants that channel development assistance directly to the organized poor and “grass roots” in Latin America and the Caribbean, did not acknowledge the new budget plan.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency, which helps companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies, did not acknowledge the new budget plan.
The Legal Services Corporation, created in 1974 to serve the legal needs of low-income Americans, posted a statement from its leaders expressing confidence. “I am optimistic that the bipartisan support we have enjoyed in Congress for more than four decades will continue for years to come,” said President James Sandman. Calling its appropriation “less than one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget,” the statement described LSC as “the backbone of the legal aid system in the United States and is particularly important in serving rural areas.”
The National Endowment for the Arts posted a statement from Chairman Jane Chu saying, “We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every congressional district in the nation . . . As a federal government agency, the NEA cannot engage in advocacy, either directly or indirectly,” she continued. “We will, however, continue our practice of educating about the NEA’s vital role in serving our nation’s communities.”
The National Endowment for the Humanities posted a statement by Chairman William Adams, saying, “We are greatly saddened to learn of this proposal for elimination, as NEH has made significant contributions to the public good over its 50-year history. But as an agency of the executive branch, we answer to the president and the Office of Management and Budget. Therefore, we must abide by this budget request as this initial stage of the federal budget process gets under way. It will be up to Congress over the next several months to determine funding levels for fiscal year 2018."
The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, located in the Housing and Urban Development Department, posted a neutral news story describing the Trump blueprint for discretionary programs, saying it reflects the president’s commitment to HUD’s “critical functions that provide rental assistance to low-income and vulnerable households and to help work-eligible families achieve self-sufficiency. It also recognizes a greater role for state and local governments, and the private sector to address community and economic development needs.”
The Northern Border Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership for economic and community development in northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, told Government Executive it would release no statement.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, set up in 1971 to mobilize private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy, said there would be no statement.
The United States Institute of Peace republished a Thursday Washington Post story saying that the agency that has dispatched staffers to some of the world’s most dangerous places is “targeted for extinction.”
The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, created in 1987 to coordinate between 19 agencies to reduce homelessness, posted no statement.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, which calls itself “the nation’s key nonpartisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and policy dialogue,” posted a statement: “We are concerned but also confident that at the end of what is likely to be a long process, the Wilson Center's 50-year record of nonpartisan research, scholarship and analysis will continue to be recognized and validated. Like the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and the Kennedy Center, the Wilson Center is an official memorial to a president.”
Image via Lester Balajadia/Shutterstock.com.