Winners and Losers in the Omnibus Spending Deal
The compromise to fund agencies through September needs approval by Friday to avoid shutdown.
Congressional negotiators have struck a deal to fund agencies through the end of the fiscal year and are expected to vote on it this week before a shutdown deadline Friday evening.
President Trump signed a one-week stopgap continuing resolution last week to buy time to a reach a longer-term spending agreement. Lawmakers unveiled that compromise bill on Monday, with leaders in both parties praising the measure as funding their priorities.
The bill would provide some, but not all, of what Trump requested in the way of a boost for the departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
Congressional leadership was optimistic the measure would pass, though White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer would not completely commit to the bill earning the president’s signature.
“I think the president got a lot out of this,” Spicer said, noting Congress provided a “down payment” on the administration’s border security and Defense priorities. He added it was a “big deal” Trump was able to have any influence on the fiscal 2017 spending process, as it normally would have been settled before he took office. Asked if Trump would sign the bill, Spicer said he had “every expectation” he would, but declined to give a definitive answer.
“He’s very pleased with the priorities, but let’s wait until it is presented to him,” Spicer said.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters Monday evening the administration was “very pleased” with the bill and “very surprised with some of the criticisms.” He said the White House got virtually everything it wanted, though he conceded the measure failed to defund “sanctuary cities” and cut spending at domestic agencies. The administration had proposed $18 billion in non-defense discretionary cuts this year, but the final omnibus does not include any net reductions.
With the top-level spending amount previously agreed upon, most agencies will see minor adjustments. Still, those facing cuts will have just five months to absorb them before the fiscal year expires in October. Below is a look at which agencies would fare the best and worst under the spending agreement.
National Institutes of Health (6.3 percent increase): Trump slated NIH to receive a $5.8 billion, or 18 percent, cut in his fiscal 2018 budget proposal. Congress demonstrated its likelihood to ignore that suggestion by increasing NIH’s fiscal 2017 funding by 6.3 percent, or $2 billion, to $34 billion. The measure would boost spending specifically on Alzheimer’s disease, precision medicine and other research. The Health and Human Services Department would see a 4 percent budget increase over fiscal 2016 overall, the largest uptick of any Cabinet department.
Transportation Department (3.7 percent increase): While the omnibus bill would provide $6.2 billion less than President Obama requested in his last budget, the measure would provide significant boosts to Transportation components. The Federal Railroad Administration would receive a 10 percent spending increase. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, an Obama initiative Trump has proposed eliminating, would be fully funded. Overall, Transportation would receive $19.1 billion, a $681 million boost.
Homeland Security Department (3.5 percent increase): In a win for Democrats, lawmakers declined to provide any funding for Trump’s proposed physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. While Trump requested $3 billion in supplemental spending for the wall and to boost hiring for immigration enforcement and border security, Congress opted to boost spending by just $1.1 billion for those issues.
The bill would actually decrease workforce spending at Customs and Border Protection by $200 million, as the agency indicated to Congress it would hire 3,000 fewer agents than it initially projected. Trump has tasked the agency with hiring 5,500 more employees. He has also instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hire 10,000 employees; ICE would see a 9 percent funding increase to hire 100 new officers, obtain more immigrant detention beds, and boost transportation and removal costs. The Transportation Security Administration would see a 4 percent increase to hire 1,400 more airport screeners, while the Secret Service would receive a nearly 6 percent boost.
Defense Department (3.5 percent increase): The Pentagon would receive $516 billion in discretionary spending and an additional $77 billion for overseas contingency operations. In addition to a $5.8 billion boost Defense already received through a supplemental to a previous CR, the department would receive a total increase of 4.5 percent compared to fiscal 2016.
FBI (3.3 percent increase): While the Justice Department would absorb a net cut overall, the FBI would receive a $277 million spending surge. The influx would go toward fighting cybercrime, counterterrorism and other programs. The bureau would receive more than $300 million to build a new headquarters.
General Services Administration (13.3 percent decrease): GSA would face the largest cuts of any major agency, with its funding decreasing by $1.35 billion. Lawmakers said the major reductions would take place in the agency’s new construction accounts.
Agriculture Department (2.9 percent decrease): USDA would lose $623 million in discretionary spending under the legislation. Many of the department’s components Trump has targeted for cuts, however -- such as Rural Development and the Farm Services Agency -- actually would receive a funding increase under the omnibus bill.
Education Department (1.7 percent decrease): Education would absorb cuts to its Innovation and Improvement programs and effective instruction grants. Democrats claimed victory in blocking Republican efforts to prevent enforcement of Title IX laws with respect to transgender student access to bathrooms.
State Department (1.1 percent decrease): Funding for State operations, U.S. Agency for International Development and foreign assistance would be set at $53.1 billion under the bill, including $16.5 billion in overseas contingency spending. A large portion of the decrease would stem from a $683 million cut to payments for the United Nations and other international organizations.
Environmental Protection Agency (1 percent decrease): Lawmakers got an early start on what will likely be much more severe cuts in EPA’s future. The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut at EPA in fiscal 2018, the sharpest of any major agency in government. EPA -- which is currently offering early retirement and buyout incentives -- would be capped at 15,000 employees, its lowest level since 1989. EPA’s research and regulatory programs would see a $52 million cut.