By Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Advocacy
After announcing that he would like to increase defense spending by $54 billion and pay for it with equal cuts from the discretionary part of the budget that funds non-defense related programs, President Donald Trump will release his first formal budget plan Thursday. If the president’s budget request does cut $54 billion from domestic discretionary funding, NCAN anticipates an $18-billion to $20-billion cut from the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education because those agencies make up one-third of this section of the budget. The cuts would represent a 12-percent reduction to their budgets.
Every program should anticipate some level of requested decrease given the large amount Trump says he plans to cut. All programs will be on the table, including Pell Grants, Supplementary Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Work-Study, and AmeriCorps. NCAN’s position is that any cuts to these programs at this time are unacceptable. We ask all members to be prepared to respond to this budget proposals with both stories and data about the importance of all of these programs to your work.
Whatever Trump’s request entails, Congress still must implement these budget cuts through the annual appropriations process, and different wings of the Republican party began questioning the proposal days before the White House is set to release the final version. Proponents like NCAN of domestic spending programs, including those in the Education Department, will closely monitor how Congress responds to the president’s budget proposal. It is possible that Congress will not reduce funding at the same levels at which the president requested; however, lawmakers completing ignoring the request for any cuts is unlikely. If necessary, NCAN will mobilize our members in support of spending on programs that are crucial to the success of our students, such as Pell Grants.
In a first step toward those actions, NCAN submitted a letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education expressing the importance of maintaining full funding for the Pell Grant, restoring year-round Pell Grants, and extending the annual increases to the Pell Grant, which end next academic year. The following members – which are located in the same congressional districts as members on the subcommittee – also submitted individual letters during the open call for public testimony: Alabama Possible, College Success Foundation (WA), East Bay College Fund (CA), Higher Heights Youth Empowerment Programs. Inc. (CT), Southern California College Access Network, Tennessee College Access and Success Network, and the Yes We Must Coalition.