Evan Vucci / AP

Biden Says He Is ‘Recommitting to Good Government’ in Full Fiscal 2022 Budget Proposal

It previews priorities in the upcoming president’s management agenda, including scientific integrity, trust in government and equity in policy making. 

On Friday morning, President Biden sent Congress a $6 trillion budget request for fiscal 2022 in which he said he is “recommitting to good government” through re-empowering the federal workforce and bolstering the ability of federal agencies to serve Americans. 

“In order to build back better and meet the full range of challenges and opportunities before us, the nation needs an equitable, effective, and accountable government that delivers results for all Americans,” said the budget document. “The budget ensures federal agencies are sufficiently resourced and effectively equipped to carry out their missions.” 

Friday’s request is the full, detailed version of an outline released on April 9. Biden is proposing a 16% increase in non-defense discretionary spending from fiscal 2021 ($769 billion) and a 1.7% increase for defense spending ($753 billion).

Some of the priorities outlined in the detailed budget request are: 

  • Making equity a focus in federal management and policy making; 
  • Rebuilding and re-empowering the federal workforce through pay and hiring initiatives; 
  • Increasing the public’s trust in government; 
  • Administering American Rescue Plan funds with “maximum accountability and transparency and a focus on achieving results;”
  • Promoting scientific integrity and evidence-based approaches in decision-making and program evaluation;
  • Improving customer experiences with federal agencies;
  • Using federal contracting to advance racial equity, support American manufacturing and champion a clean energy future; and,
  • Pursuing a “modern and diverse” federal acquisition system.

“Taken together, these actions will support the president’s management agenda as it takes shape in the coming months,” said the document. 

Other priorities in the budget proposal are: investing $6.5 billion to launch the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health to boost federal research on cancer and other diseases; giving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention $8.7 billion, its largest funding increase in almost 20 years, to improve its readiness for future public health crises; devoting “significant increases” for civil rights activities and offices across the government; making “major” investments to combat climate change through a “whole-of-government approach” and upgrading federal facilities and veterans’ hospitals. 

The proposal includes Biden’s already-introduced American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. 

The budget “reforms our broken tax code to reward work instead of wealth, while also fully paying for the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan over 15 years,” said a message from Biden in the budget document. “It will help us build a[n] [economic] recovery that is broad-based, inclusive, sustained, and strong” and show Americans “that their government sees them, hears them, and is able to deliver for them again.” 

All of the major agencies would receive a boost in base discretionary funds except for the Homeland Security Department (which would remain stagnant) and the Army Corps of Engineers (due to a program getting shifted to the Energy Department). For the first time in 10 years there will be no spending caps. 

“Over the past decade, due in large measure to overly restrictive budget caps, the nation significantly underinvested in crucial public services, benefits and protections,” said a fact sheet from the Office of Management and Budget. “To truly build back better, our country must also begin to reverse these trends and reinvest in core functions of government—and that’s exactly what the president’s budget does through targeted discretionary investments across a range of key areas.” 

The budget proposal met with some immediate backlash.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement, ahead of the budget’s public release, the request is “a blueprint for the higher taxes, excessive spending, and disproportionate funding priorities the American people can expect from [Biden’s] administration over the next four years.” 

The proposal is largely symbolic as the final version of the budget is expected to undergo changes as Congress takes it up. Actual agency-by-agency spending levels will be determined through the appropriations process. However, with Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress, lawmakers are more likely to adhere to the president’s priorities.

The administration released the budget with Shalanda Young at the helm of OMB, in an acting director capacity. Young became acting director after getting confirmed as OMB deputy director on March 23. Biden has yet to name a nominee for the permanent OMB director job after Neera Tanden withdrew her nomination on March 2.

“There have certainly been long delays in confirming OMB nominees before now, but none have ever been voted down or withdrawn after formal nomination until Ms. Tanden,” Andrew Rudalevige, chair of the government and legal studies department and Thomas B. Reed Professor of Government at Bowdoin College, told Government Executive last week. “There are often, of course, anticipated reactions taken into account in regarding who is nominated in the first place.” 

Politico reported on Friday that a nominee for OMB director is expected within the next two weeks, according to two sources familiar with the matter.