President Obama released the final budget proposal of his presidency Tuesday, a $4.15 trillion tax and spending plan that would boost federal government spending by just under 5 percent.
Here is a sampling of some key spending areas:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the sprawling Health and Human Services Department, is seeking funding boosts for some of the Obama administration’s top priorities. These include an additional $40 million to prevent, detect and control illness and death related to infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria; $10 million more to protect against domestic and global health threats; and $10 million more as part of a government-wide program to prevent drug overdoses.
The agency is also seeking $15 million in new funding to improve health and wellness for Native Americans and $30 million in mandatory funding for suicide prevention. The latter is part of the administration’s proposal to boost federal mental health spending by $500 million over two years to improve access to care and prevent suicides.
The administration is asking Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to respond to the Zika virus abroad and prepare for it at home. The bulk of that money, $828 million, would go to the CDC to reduce transmission in the most vulnerable parts of the United States, including Puerto Rico, Hawaii and southern states such as Florida and Texas. Officials are also focusing on protective measures for pregnant women and their babies, the groups at highest risk.
Specifically, the funding would help to expand mosquito-control programs; establish rapid-response teams to deploy to potential Zika cluster areas in the United States; improve laboratory capacity and diagnostics to test for the virus and other infectious diseases; increase research on the link between Zika and birth defects; and expand CDC’s pregnancy risk-assessment monitoring system to track and detect risks related to Zika.
President Obama is seeking a 35 percent hike in cybersecurity funding in his final budget to boost the capability of the federal government to defend itself against cyberattacks.
The proposed $19 billion request, which represents one of the largest increases ever sought in this area, comes as Congress and the public have witnessed an alarming series of intrusions in recent years against targets ranging from Target and Sony to the Pentagon and the Office of Personnel Management.
The proposal is part of a larger package of initiatives the White House is calling the cybersecurity national action plan.
The money would go toward replacing aging — in some cases decades-old — computer systems with new machines and software, hiring additional skilled personnel, and increasing capabilities at the Pentagon’s Cyber Command and the FBI as well as in civilian agencies such as OPM and the Department of Veterans Affairs, officials said.
Some portion of the money will go to the classified cyber budget for intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency and the CIA, they said.
President Obama’s education budget for fiscal 2017 seeks major new investment to bring K-12 education into the digital age, with a $4 billion request to expand computer science education, as well as several initiatives designed to drive down college debt and make higher education more affordable, especially for low-income students.
The president is also seeking an increase in money spent to educate low-income children in grades K through 12, as well as more funds for career and technical education.
As the number of public school children living in poverty increases, Obama is asking for a $450 million boost to the $16.1 billion Title 1 program, which helps states educate low-income children in K-12. It is the federal government’s largest single category of education funding.
The president is seeking a total of $69.4 billion in discretionary funds for education, a $1.1 billion increase over the 2016 budget of $68.3 billion.
It is unlikely that Republicans who control Congress will approve much of an increase in education spending.
The fiscal 2017 budget would most directly affect the 2017-2018 school year, which is also the first year of full implementation of a new federal K-12 education law passed by Congress that directed the elimination or consolidation of 50 programs within the education agency.
In his 2017 proposal, Obama has renewed his push to make two years of community college free for “responsible students” — those who maintain a 2.5 grade-point average, show steady progress toward completion and whose families earn less than $200,000 annually. Under his plan, the federal government would pay 75 percent of the average cost of community college, with states paying the rest.
The administration also wants to launch a new tax credit program to encourage employers to work with community and technical colleges to create training programs for in-demand fields such as health care, energy and information technology. Employers would help colleges to design curriculum, donate instructors and equipment, and offer job-based training opportunities. And they would get a one-time $5,000 tax credit for every graduate they hire. A total of $500 million in credits would be available each year from 2017 through 2021.
The notion of making community college free has minimal Republican support.
To help college students graduate faster — and reduce their costs — Obama wants an additional $2 billion investment in Pell grants for needy students. The money would be used to reinstate year-round Pell, which lets eligible full-time students receive federal grants three semesters a year, instead of two. Congress reduced the aid distribution to two semesters in 2011, but lawmakers in both parties have expressed interest in reinstituting the program.
The additional investment Obama is requesting would also offer an incentive to students who take 15 or more credits per semester. The president also wants to extend Pell grants to incarcerated individuals.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s fiscal 2017 spending plan would seek to accelerate improvements to troubled municipal water systems while committing new money to help states fight climate change.
The Obama administration proposed overall discretionary spending for the regulatory agency of $8.3 billion, a 1.5 percent increase over the EPA’s enacted budget for 2016 but slightly less than last year’s spending request.
The budget proposal reflects concerns over water quality in the wake of the Flint, Mich., water crisis, with $42 million to help with technical assistance and training for state and local governments seeking to improve infrastructure for drinking water and sewage treatment. That spending would be in addition to $2 billion allocated for the EPA revolving fund that helps municipalities finance water systems.
“Flint is an indicator of our need to increase our commitment to drinking-water infrastructure,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters in reviewing highlights of the plan.
New money is also proposed to fund President Obama’s climate initiatives. The EPA would set aside $25 million in grants to help states implement its Clean Power Plan, the regulation adopted last summer that seeks to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from burning coal.
The spending blueprint includes funding for the 10-year, $1.65 billion Climate Infrastructure Fund that would support the upgrading of vehicle fleets to utilize clean-energy technology. The program’s top priority would be to update school bus fleets, replacing diesel equipment with cleaner engines. McCarthy said pollution from older vehicles “not only contributes to climate change but also puts our kids at risk.”
The climate proposals are likely to face opposition from the Republican- controlled Congress, which opposes the EPA’s regulations on carbon pollution. But state governments have pushed for federal help to enable them to meet the new rules. “These additional funds are essential if our nation is serious about meeting the health and welfare goals of the Clean Air Act,” said S. William Becker, director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, an association of environmental regulatory agencies from 40 states.
Spending for the Department of Health and Human Services would increase to $1.1 trillion under a proposal that would add large mandatory expenditures for cancer research and fighting drug addictions while slightly decreasing the department’s discretionary programs.
The budget would modify the controversial “Cadillac tax” on expensive private health plans so that it would not apply to some employers in states with especially high insurance prices. The tax, part of the Affordable Care Act, already has been postponed from 2018 to 2020.
The budget proposes several steps to address the escalating price of prescription drugs. It would enable the government to compel pharmaceutical manufacturers to disclose the cost of researching and developing drugs. It calls for speeding up the closing of a “doughnut hole” in Medicare drug benefits and for bigger drug rebates for low-income Medicare patients.
The budget furthers the administration’s efforts to move toward new payment methods in Medicare, including a new competitive bidding system for private Medicare Advantage health plans.
The proposal also reinforces the administration’s push for more states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It would allow the federal government to pay the entire cost of such expansions for three years, no matter when a state made its decision. Currently, the federal portion is scheduled to dip to 90 percent next year.
The White House is highlighting $500 million that would be devoted to treating serious mental illnesses — part of a package of executive actions announced last month to try to curb gun violence.
The Department of Homeland Security’s budget request is a mix designed to keep the nation safe attached to some bragging about what DHS considers the Obama administration’s successes.
The first sentence of a DHS fact sheet accompanying the $40.6 billion request for fiscal 2017 talks about how under President Obama’s leadership, “we have turned our economy around and created 14 million jobs.’’ The administration’s overall budget request submitted to Congress praises DHS for investments in southwestern border security that the administration says have “produced significant and positive results.’’
When they turn to actual numbers, the DHS documents offer justification for a budget that is slightly less than the $41.2 billion requested last year. This year’s request would fund some new programs, such as a DHS-led interagency task force on countering violent extremism and a new initiative to fight human trafficking through law enforcement training and other measures.
Also up for new funding is the Coast Guard, which would receive $1.1 billion for “recapitalization efforts,’’ including $150 million to help acquire a new polar icebreaker.
DHS’s more familiar programs, designed to prevent terrorism, secure the nation’s borders, enforce immigration laws and safeguard cyberspace, also are funded. The budget would spend $173.8 million, for example, on a program that helps screen cargo at ports of entry and $2 billion for grants to help state and local governments prevent and respond to catastrophic events.
Notably, the request shows that DHS appears to be enhancing its efforts to deport illegal immigrants. The efforts have been especially controversial since the department recently began targeting migrants from Central America. The budget would give $347.5 million to what DHS calls its Criminal Alien Program to apprehend and remove illegal immigrants, funding that would allow U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of DHS, to hire 100 more officers.
The president’s new budget request for the Interior Department is similar to last year’s. He’s asking Congress for $13.4 billion, up slightly from fiscal 2016’s $13.2 billion. With the approach of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the department is placing a strong emphasis on the management and continued upkeep of the parks, with a proposed $860 million investment over the next decade.
Although there’s widespread support for upgrading America’s parks, some of President Obama’s other requests won’t get passed without a fight. One such case is the $2 billion request for improving coastal resilience to climate change, a problem many congressional Republicans say is not man-made and is not as big a problem as many scientists and others say it is.
The administration is asking for $290 million to protect communities and forest ecosystems from wildfires — money that Congress has been reluctant to provide in past years, even as the administration says the fires are growing worse.
President Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget request is essentially stay-the-course funding for NASA, with some additional money for new technologies.
The civilian space agency is in the midst of a protracted transition from the era of the space shuttle to the era of commercial launch contracts for “routine” trips to the International Space Station. Simultaneously the agency wants to position itself for an eventual human mission to Mars, which requires heavy investment in new hardware.
The budget seeks $19 billion for NASA, which is about $300 million less than what Congress allotted for fiscal 2016.
If past patterns hold, Congress will restore some of that funding and give NASA a higher top-line budget. The administration’s lower budget request would mean significant cuts to the exploration division of the agency, where big-ticket space-hardware projects — including the jumbo rocket known as the Space Launch System and the new Orion capsule — have powerful patrons in Congress.
The president’s request asks NASA to focus on the Earth as well as space. His proposed budget calls for a fleet of Earth-observing spacecraft to monitor climate and the environment, and it directs NASA to team with other government agencies to research new types of clean fuel and aircraft that emit less carbon into the atmosphere.
The budget would invest in new technologies such as energy-efficient, solar-electric propulsion, which the documents states “would allow us to push out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay.”
Funding for Vice President Biden’s cancer “moonshot,” advances in precision medicine and research on the complexity of the brain highlight the president’s $33.1 billion proposed 2017 budget for the National Institutes of Health.
The figure represents a $1.1 billion increase over the recently approved 2016 NIH budget, which included the agency’s single biggest funding boost in more than a decade.
About $680 million would expand clinical trials to include more minorities and others who suffer from higher cancer rates. It also would be used to seek new vaccine technology and research on the causes, treatment, prevention and detection of cancer.
President Obama announced the effort to speed up cancer research during his State of the Union address in January and put Biden, whose son died of brain cancer last year, in charge.
A $107 million increase, to $300 million, would support the agency’s growing precision medicine initiative by assembling a database of information on at least 1 million people for research purposes. The information would be used to explore the ways that genetics, the environment and other factors interact to cause disease, in the hope of developing new therapies and approaches to prevention.
NIH’s brain research initiative would receive $195 million, a $45 million increase over the current year, to further the understanding of psychiatric and neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, autism, depression, schizophrenia and addiction. The initiative was begun in 2013 to direct money into cutting-edge research to develop new technologies and tools to understand the brain.
Alzheimer’s is also one of the focuses of an NIH effort to collaborate with drug companies and nonprofit groups to identify people at risk for the disease and test therapies and prevention efforts.
The Food and Drug Administration would receive $1.5 billion to upgrade food safety regulations by implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act. The FDA also would get $2.8 billion, an increase of $116 million, to ensure the safety of drugs and medical devices and $75 million to develop ways to regulate new health technology.
The president’s proposed budget also contains some of the nearly $1.2 billion in new funding that Obama has pledged to address heroin and prescription opioid abuse over the next two years.
The president’s new budget request asks Congress to significantly increase funding for two of the country’s top financial regulators, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Funding for the SEC would increase 11 percent, to $1.8 billion, while funding for the CFTC would jump 32 percent, to $330 million, under the president’s proposal for fiscal 2017. The agencies’ budgets would double by 2021.
The SEC, which has been under pressure to finish enacting the 2010 financial reform package known as Dodd-Frank, would be able to add more than 200 full-time employees as part of the proposal.
“Despite what critics said, Wall Street Reform has created a stronger and more stable foundation for economic growth,” Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council, said in a blog post Monday. “But there is more work to do.”
The budget also would impose a fee on the “largest financial firms on the basis of their liabilities,” Zients said. A lot has been done to curb excessive risk on Wall Street, but “this fees is another way to further those reforms, ensuring that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for risky Wall Street gambles.”
The proposed budget for the State Department and USAID includes $50.1 billion in discretionary spending.
It includes sizeable increases in some areas related to the fight against violent extremism in the Middle East and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.
It sets aside $4.1 billion for the campaign against the Islamic State and the response to the ongoing civil war in Syria. That includes programs to rebuild and stabilize towns destroyed when militants are ousted, efforts to counter the extremists’ propaganda, attack plotting and financing.
With 60 million people around the world either refugees or internally displaced, the budget allots $6.2 billion for humanitarian assistance in countries including Syria, Iraq and South Sudan. .
Support for international organizations and peacekeeping efforts, including contributions to the United Nations and other institutions, costs $4.7 billion.
The budget sets aside $953 million to counter Russia “aggression” by providing help to Ukraine and other countries in the region.
It devotes slightly more money, $984 million, to combat climate change. More than half, $500 million, is for a Green Climate Fund overseen with the Treasury Department to help developing countries reduce carbon polluion.
Among other priorites are $1 billion to cut down on illegal immigration from Central America. Security, maintenance and construction at embassies get $6.1 billion.