FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker speaks during an event at the Department of Transportation on March 11 to discuss the president's fiscal 2025 budget request.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker speaks during an event at the Department of Transportation on March 11 to discuss the president's fiscal 2025 budget request. Alex Wong / GETTY IMAGES

The 9 most significant agency and program reforms in Biden's budget

See how the president is prioritizing his proposed budget increases at nearly every agency in government.

President Biden unveiled nearly across-the-board spending bumps in his fiscal 2025 budget on Monday, though his proposal maintained a lower overall spending level as agreed to in recent budget deals. 

The funding increases were far more modest than the White House proposed in his previous spending blueprint, a reflection of his agreement with congressional Republicans. The budget complies with the Fiscal Responsibility act, a two-year deal President Biden signed into law last year to set budget caps in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling.

Non-defense discretionary spending would come in at $770 billion after accounting for offsets in the FRA, a 1.3% increase. Defense spending was set to increase to $850 billion. Accounting for all parts of the federal budget, the document proposed nearly $7.3 trillion in spending.  

While funding for fiscal 2024 is not yet fully resolved, lawmakers have promised to move quickly on the fiscal 2025 appropriations process to avoid the repeated delays that agencies faced this year. While Congress is certain to reject many parts of Biden’s proposal, the detailed, program-by-program document starts the conversation for that process. Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young contrasted the White House’s blueprint with the vague plans from Republicans to reduce federal spending. 

“This President's budget lays out in great detail every program that he would fund, how he plans on fulfilling his promise of growing the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, through childcare, through universal pre-K, through free community college, through apprenticeships. Everything is detailed in the discretionary budget, mandatory proposals, tax proposals.” 

The White House is seeking a modest increase for non-defense agencies in fiscal 2025 after their top-line funding levels were kept flat for fiscal 2024. It suggested increasing pay for federal employees by a modest 2%. The White House estimated its budget would decrease the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years, primarily by raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations.

While discretionary spending would dip at the departments of Veterans Affairs and Transportation, those agencies would see an overall increase in funding under previous budget agreements and supplemental funding from existing laws. 

Because funding for fiscal 2024 is still being finalized for many agencies, all comparisons to budget increases or decreases—unless otherwise noted—are relative to their enacted fiscal 2023 levels. 

Climate hiring and spending 

The Environmental Protection Agency once again would see the largest increase for any agency under Biden’s budget, though the proposed surge was down to 8.4% from the nearly 20% spike he requested in his previous blueprint. EPA would receive $2.8 billion for climate-related programs and see its overall workforce increase by more than 2,000 employees compared to fiscal 2023 levels, a 13% jump.

Meanwhile, the Energy Department, which would see one of the largest workforce expansions of any agency, would experience a nearly 8% funding boost. It would increase its clean energy programs funding by $10.6 billion, a 12% increase. The budget would support a 29% increase for Energy’s efforts to support the clean energy workforce and infrastructure projects a 37% spike for developing clean energy on public lands and waters. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would see a whopping 172% increase for offshore wind permitting activities, while NOAA, NASA, the National Science Foundation and other agencies would collectively receive $4.5 billion for climate research. Finally, the budget would provide $23 billion across several agencies the Biden administration said would build resilience to the increasing risks of climate change.

Border security

The Biden administration used its fiscal 2025 budget to once again push for an emergency funding surge to address immigration and border concerns. The funding would allow the Homeland Security Department to hire 1,300 additional Border Patrol agents to secure the border, 1,000 additional Customs and Border Protection officers and 1,600 asylum officers within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It would also allow the Justice Department to hire 375 new immigration judge teams.  

“Taken together, these long-term capacity building investments equip the Nation’s border security and immigration system to more effectively respond to challenges present along the border,” the White House said. 

Outside the supplemental request, Biden proposed funding to hire 350 Border Patrol agents, 310 processing coordinators and 150 CBP officers. He also suggested creating a contingency fund of $4.7 billion that would become available to DHS when responding to migration surges. Funding for CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement would collectively increase by 8%. Justice proposed a 14% surge for the Executive Office of Immigration Review, in part to hire 25 new immigration judge teams. 

Reversing ‘unconscionable’ cuts

While the Social Security Administration would only receive a 3.4% increase to its discretionary budget under the president’s budget, the president also proposed an adjustment to its “program integrity cap” that would lead to a total boost of 9%. The increase would improve benefits administration and customer service, the White House said. The agency said it expects to end fiscal 2024 with its lowest staffing level since 1972 and its proposal would allow it to at least return to the number of employees it had on board in fiscal 2023, while also increasing the use of overtime. Budget constraints have forced a hiring freeze that has devastated the agency, SSA said. 

“One way to undermine Social Security benefits is not to fund the agency and people needed to provide access to those benefits,” OMB’s Young said on Monday. “And it's unconscionable that the Social Security Administration has been starved of resources. And we call on Congress to take up the President's proposal to increase this agency.” 

Improving customer service

The administration is looking to add new “voice of customer” programs at eight agencies. They would collect and report performance data to develop ways to improve service. The budget would also fund the hiring of teams at 10 agencies focused on improving customer experiences and digital services, leading to the hiring of more than 170 personnel. Those employees would help with customer journey mapping, pain point identification, feedback analysis and other initiatives. 

Boosting public lands

Both the departments of Interior and Agriculture would see big boosts to their wildland firefighting programs, with the latter’s Forest Service requesting a $387 million increase. The White House also pitched making permanent the comprehensive pay reform federal firefighters have received. The National Park Service would see an unusually high 15% funding boost,  including funding for tribal programs and a boost to a program aimed at offering new recreation opportunities in economically disadvantaged urban communities. 

Improving agency organization

The Biden administration is establishing a “toolkit” for agencies to assess their organizational health and performance. OMB is developing the blueprint in collaboration with the Office of Personnel Management to help agencies develop action plans for monitoring their effectiveness and making “data-informed decisions” that improve mission success. It said agencies should ultimately have a “series of management routines, processes and practices that can be applied for engaging senior leadership, articulating a vision of what success looks like for the organization and mechanisms to regularly assess performance against those stated goals, objectives, and priorities using data and evidence.”

Maintaining tax enforcement

While the White House proposed keeping the Internal Revenue Service’s funding flat, it suggested Congress restore the full amount it was originally provided as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. That would mean an additional $20 billion, which Congress reallocated as part of a budget deal last year. It would also extend the duration of the boosted funding for the agency, meaning IRS would receive a $104 billion total cash infusion through fiscal 2034. IRS plans to hire tens of thousands of additional employees with the funding, which it said would generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue

Growing federal law enforcement

Justice requested $17.7 billion for its law enforcement divisions, a 7% increase. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would see its funding jump 30% since fiscal 2021, with new spending going toward gun crime prevention and prosecution. The department would stand up a new Violent Crime Reduction and Prevention Fund, which would receive $1.2 billion over five years and hire new federal law enforcement agents, prosecutors and forensic specialists to go after fentanyl traffickers, apprehend fugitives and reduce the rate of unsolved violent crimes. 

Keeping pace with air travel growth

The Federal Aviation Administration would receive $17.5 billion under Biden's budget, a 14% increase. The agency received a $1 billion bump in the just-passed fiscal 2024 spending bill, meaning the jump from its new funding level would be about 7%. The added money would go toward "robust hiring," the agency said, to "rebuild the pipeline of new controllers needed to safely meet project air traffic demands." The White House also proposed an $8 billion investment over five years to modernize FAA’s facilities and radars which would be separate from the agency’s discretionary budget.