Washington Update

Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request

By: Benjamin Krinsky
Thursday, February 15, 2018

The White House Office of Management and Budget released the administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget proposal  February 12. Titled “Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget,” the proposal includes cuts to many programs, though it does not purport to balance the budget over 10 years, and in fact projects a deficit of $363 billion in 2028. An appendix containing budgets for each department was also released by the White House.

In an added twist, the proposal includes an addendum drafted in light of the congressional deal to raise spending caps signed into law February 9. The addendum restores funding for many programs, thus ameliorating some of the cuts proposed in the main FY 2019 budget documents.

But the addendum does not fully embrace the levels of non-defense discretionary spending included in the congressional budget deal. As a result, many agencies may see increases in FY 2018 (the current fiscal year) and FY 2019, above what is proposed in the addendum.


Agency Administration FY 2019 Request1 Change from FY 2017 appropriated funding
NIH $34.8 Billion +$700 million2
NSF $7.47 Billion (no change)
DOE SC $5.39 Billion (no change)
USDA AFRI $375 Million (no change)
VA Research $727 Million +$52 million

1Includes funding recommended in Addendum to the President’s FY19 Budget to Account for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

2Includes consolidation of other Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs under NIH. See below.

FASEB issued a statement expressing disappointment that recommended funding levels fall short of what is needed to support a flourishing scientific enterprise. Reactions on Capitol Hill to the president’s budget were mixed. Though speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke positively about the proposal, Appropriations Committee Chairmen were more measured in their press releases.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said: “We will carefully and thoroughly review this Fiscal Year 2019 budget request from the President, conduct strong oversight, and hold agencies accountable for the use of taxpayer funds and ask them to justify their request. The Committee will perform our own analysis and craft legislation that reflects the will of the House and the needs of the people we represent.”

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats assailed the proposal for its domestic program cuts. Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) cited his opposition, but stated his intention to move forward as specified in the budget deal reached last week: “I will work with Chairman Cochran to craft responsible appropriations bills in the coming months that meet the new budget caps set in the bipartisan budget deal, and that truly move our country forward.”

Highlights for specific agencies and programs:

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The NIH section is on pages 44-50 of the linked Health and Human Services (HHS) PDF (pages 40-46 of the print version). Total FY 2019 program level would grow to about $34.8 billion, plus supplemental funding to help address the opioid epidemic. But the administration’s proposal would consolidate Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality activities into a National Institute for Research on Safety and Quality under the auspices of NIH.

Similarly, programs currently administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, are also shifted into the NIH portfolio. So while the overall NIH budget would appear to increase, many programs across Institutes and Centers would see cuts if this budget were enacted.

In terms of grant policy, the administration’s budget would reduce the salary limit payable with grant funds from $187,000 to $152,000, similar to proposals included in congressional report language. Moreover, the budget would cap the percentage of investigator salary payable with grant funds to 90 percent of total salary (see pages 44-45 of the HHS Summary).

National Science Foundation (NSF)

NSF has not yet released a full budget justification. A short document about their request, including monies provided in the budget addendum, is available here. Under the administration’s proposal, NSF would receive $7.47 billion, the same appropriation as FY 2017. The request includes a small increase to the Research and Related Activities account and encourages NSF to invest in established, agency-wide research initiatives such as Ten Big Ideas.

Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE SC)

DOE SC has not yet released its own budget request, but some information is available on page 2 of the Department of Energy summary. Under the administration’s proposal, DOE SC would receive about $5.39 billion, the same appropriation as FY 2017. This funding would include $2.1 billion to operate national labs and other facilities, and $760 million for construction of new large-scale scientific instruments.

Department of Agriculture

Under the administration’s proposal, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative would receive $375 million, the same appropriation as FY 2017.