Trump Administration Proposes Cuts to Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Appropriations

By Kermit Kaleba, March 28, 2017

Various media outlets are reporting today on a set of proposed cuts to Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 spending levels circulated by the Office of Management and Budget that would include significant cuts to Pell Grants and certain Department of Labor training programs. The proposed cuts are in addition to the cuts outlined in President Trump’s FY 2018 “skinny budget” released earlier this month, and would be used to offset proposed increases in defense and border wall construction costs.

Most federal programs – including programs at DOL and the Department of Education – are currently being funded through a temporary stopgap known as a “continuing resolution,” (CR) which largely maintains funding at prior year levels. The current CR was enacted in December, and runs through April 28th. Congress had been expected to finalize FY 2017 appropriations before the start of the new year, but had been asked to delay the process to allow the incoming Trump administration to weigh in on overall spending levels.

The chart circulated by OMB includes a rescission of $1.3 billion in unobligated spending from the Pell Grant program, on top of the nearly $4 billion cut proposed in the administration’s FY 2018 proposal. The chart also calls for eliminating funding for the Senior Community Service Employment Program and the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Program under DOL, as well as cutting $100 million from the Dislocated Worker National Reserve.

With Congress currently scheduled to be out of session for the holiday recess for most of April, there is relatively little time for appropriators to revise final spending levels in response to the Administration’s requests, and it is not expected that many of these proposed cuts will ultimately be adopted. However, the new request further underscores the disconnect between the Administration’s rhetoric on the importance of job training in addressing worker and business skill needs, and their efforts to cut funding for those same programs.

National Skills Coalition joined with more than 30 other national organizations as part of the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce in a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committees on February 27th, calling for sustained funding for key education and workforce programs, and a letter to OMB director Mick Mulvaney earlier this month in response to proposed cuts under the FY’18 budget proposal. We will continue to work with our national, state, and local partners to education policymakers on the vital role these investments play for industries and jobseekers across the country, and to reject cuts that would reduce our nation’s ability to compete in a global economy.