By Lisa Cirincione, Joining Vision and Action

President Donald Trump has released his skinny budget, “America First,” which gives us some broad stroke glimpses of where he would like Congress to approve cuts to domestic, discretionary programs in the 2018 fiscal year. At a high level, it will squeeze federal grant programs, which have already been cut under sequestration, much harder.

Some of the proposed program cuts that will impact JVA’s clients:

HUD: Eliminating the Community Development Block Grant (Meals on Wheels, Choice Neighborhoods and HOME Investment Partnerships); lowering direct rental assistance payments (including Section 8 Housing and homeless veterans vouchers); removing 10% for elderly housing Section 202; reducing disabled housing programs under Section 811 by 20%; and reducing Native American housing block grants by 20%.

Department of Education: Reducing or eliminating 20 programs, including 21st Century Community Learning Centers (eliminating); Supporting Effective Instruction (eliminating); Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (eliminating); Striving Readers (not defined if cutting or eliminating); Teacher Quality Partnership and Impact Aid support payments for federal property and international education programs (not defined if cutting or eliminating); TRIO programs (cutting); and GEAR UP (cutting).

Department of Transportation: Eliminating TIGER grants.

Department of Human Services: Eliminating the Health Professions and Nursing Training Programs; eliminating Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; eliminating Community Services Block Grants.

Department of Labor: Eliminating the Senior Community Service Employment Program.

Corporation for National and Community Service: Eliminating the program.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Eliminating the program.

Institute of Museum and Library Services. Eliminating the program.

National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities: Eliminating the programs.

Who will Benefit

The big winners under President Trump’s budget are the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.

So, while this is certainly cause for alarm, there is room for hope in the thing that we all got scared about a few years ago…the sequestration. That is because the sequestration, formerly called the Budget Control Act, put caps on how much Congress can spend on defense and nondefense discretionary programs through 2021. It prohibits Congress from shifting money from nondefense to defense programs or vice versa. It also prohibits Congress from using reconciliation—a way to avoid the 60-vote threshold in the Senate—to get out from under the caps. To do what President Trump is asking for, he will need to repeal sequestration, which would open himself up to a threat of Senate filibuster. President Trump is hoping to avoid this rule by proposing to replace the separate caps on defense spending with a total cap on discretionary spending. However, that is a strategy unlikely to get the votes that he needs.

There are so many wars that this budget is going to trigger that I’m keeping my money on the likelihood of a continuing resolution.