‘Low Priority Programs’

President Trump addressed the full Congress for the first time on February 28. In just three months, President Trump has:   

  • Prevented federal agencies from hiring new workers or filling vacant positions, making it harder for them to provide the services that taxpayers expect.   
  • Proposed gutting the budgets of agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department, endangering the health of our country and weakening our standing internationally.   
  • Attempted to unravel a law that extends health care coverage to millions of people. 
  • Requested spending increases that hand tens of billions of dollars to unaccountable defense contractors rather than hiring much-needed defense civilian employees.   

In the Weeds: Targeted for Cuts in 2018   

One day before Trump’s first address to Congress, White House officials unveiled a plan to boost military spending by $54 billion by slashing vital programs at other agencies to pay for it. The biggest proposed cuts are reported to be in the EPA and the State Department.   

EPA’s $8.2 billion budget would be slashed by 31 percent, or about $2.6 billion – reducing EPA’s spending to levels not seen since the Reagan administration. Dozens of programs are facing elimination, including important initiatives aimed at protecting air and water from industrial polluters. EPA’s workforce of 15,000 would be cut by 25% to 10,000 - 12,000.    

Proposed cuts to the EPA enraged lawmakers and officials from both sides of the aisle.   

Rep. Mike Simpson, chairman of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, said there’s “not that much in the EPA [budget] for crying out loud.” Besides, more than 25 percent of the EPA budget goes to popular clean air and safe drinking water grants for states and local communities.   

“[The proposal] ignores the need to invest in science and to implement the law,” said former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “It ignores the lessons of history that led to EPA’s creation 46 years ago. And it ignores the American people calling for its continued support.”   

But the results of the devastating cuts also have hit closer to home. Across the country, rallies protesting the cuts have been held by conservation and environmental organizations like the Sierra Club. But the outcry isn’t reserved just for the science and environmental communities. Concerned AFGE members have held rallies in Atlanta, D.C., Chicago, and more.   

At the State Department, the agency’s $50 billion annual budget could be cut by 30 percent, which would require eliminating programs and cutting diplomatic staff.   

More than 120 retired generals and admirals are alarmed by the proposed cut to the State Department and foreign aid. They have urged Congress to fully fund America’s strategic investments and diplomatic programs, as “elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe.”   

“We know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone,” they wrote. “The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”   

Low Priority Programs’  

Here are a few examples of government functions that the administration considers to be ‘low priority’ and face radical budget cuts:   

  • Finding cures to deadly diseases (NIH, CDC, HHS)  
  • Keeping bombs and terrorists off airplanes (TSA)  
  • Keeping criminals off the streets and behind the prison walls (BOP)  
  • Responding to natural disasters (FEMA)  
  • Protecting and maintaining the national parks (NPS)  
  • Inspecting our food (FSIS)  
  • Ensuring the safety of drugs (FDA)  
  • Helping retirees and people with disabilities determine their benefits and cutting their checks (SSA)  
  • Enforcing civil rights laws against workplace discrimination (EEOC)  
  • Protecting consumers against greedy banks and financial institutions (CFPB)  
  • Keeping American workers safe from professional hazards (DOL)  
  • Monitoring weather patterns and extreme storms (NOAA)  
  • Educating our children (ED)  
  • Building and maintaining our roads and bridges (DOT)  
  • Helping Americans become homeowners and boosting local economies (HUD)   

At the Social Security Administration, where understaffing is an issue already, AFGE Council 220 has been informed that additional funding needed to meet growing demands for service won’t be provided.   

“President Trump promised to ‘make American safe again,’ and put the American people back to work, but the drastic budget cuts he’s proposing will do just the opposite. President Trump’s proposed budget, if enacted, would have far-reaching consequences across all communities,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr.     

“These budget cuts will make a difficult job even harder for the women and men who protect our skies, patrol our waters, and help us prepare for and respond to emergencies,” Cox said.  

“President Trump said he wants to work with members of Congress from both parties going forward on new laws that will benefit all Americans. I and the rest of the country intend to hold him to that promise.” 

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