On February 10, the Trump Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request to Congress. In a significant departure from last year’s budget rollout, the FY 2021 budget is not delivered on the heels of a major government shutdown, like we saw in early 2019. Given that Congress passed its FY 2020 appropriations bills in December 2019—albeit nearly 3 months late—the President’s FY 2021 budget can be compared to FY 2020 enacted levels, providing a clearer look at the potential implications of the Administration’s proposals. However, the positive news largely ends there with respect to the Trump Administration’s budget for science and education, as well as nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending generally.
As previously reported, a bipartisan budget agreement was passed in August providing much needed relief from tight budget caps on discretionary spending for FY 2020 and FY 2021. The deal allowed Congress to increase funding to federal agencies across the FY 2020 appropriations bills; however, for FY 2021, the deal raises the caps by only 0.4 percent, setting this year up to be a particularly challenging one (though admittedly still better than under the pre-deal spending caps). What’s more, while President Trump signed the budget deal into law last summer, his FY 2021 budget request seeks to cut nondefense discretionary spending by 6 percent. In other words, the Administration is proposing a cut of $37 billion to NDD even though the budget deal negotiated by the White House last year would allow for an increase of $2.5 billion in FY 2021.
Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the President’s proposals as they pertain to social and behavioral science research. You can also read our supplement on the planned elimination of the Minerva Research Initiative at the Department of Defense (see related article).