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On March 16, 2017, the White House released a budget proposal document popularly known as a “skinny budget” or “blueprint.” While this document does give some idea of the administration’s priorities, it is not a budget, and it lacks substantial detail. A more complete budget proposal from the White House is expected in May. We will keep the Tufts research community up to date on the current Administration’s priorities as they relates to science, engineering, arts, and humanities funding as more information becomes available.

Below, we summarize the “skinny budget.” Please keep in mind, however, that funding comes from Congress, and the final Federal budget is typically substantially different from what the current President proposes.

Overall, as expected, the White House proposes substantial cuts to climate change and environmental research, affecting a number of agencies, including:

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Discontinue funding for climate change research and international climate change programs
  • Department of Energy (DOE): Eliminates the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E); reduces funding on high-energy physics, energy, climate change, and biology research funded by the Office of Science
  • NASA Earth Sciences: Programs would be cut substantially, though other NASA programs remain in place
  • NOAA: Cuts would eliminate funds for programs dedicated to coastal management and marine research and education, including the Sea Grant program

Additionally, the budget document proposes signification changes to Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) research, including:

  • A “major reorganization” of NIH institutes and centers, though there are few details
  • Elimination of the Fogarty International Center
  • Folding into the NIH the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ)
  • An overall 19% (approximate) budget cut for NIH
  • An emergency fund to help respond to disease outbreaks (though there are no details about how much money would be included or who would control this fund)
  • An increase in spending on substance abuse services to prevent and treat opioid addiction
  • Elimination of funds currently used for training nurses and other medical professionals
  • The 21st Century Cures Act that provides guaranteed funding for programs researching cancer, mapping the brain, and precision medicine would receive a 21% increase over 2017 levels.

Arts and humanities programs have been targeted for elimination, though many experts agree that it is unlikely that the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities will be eliminated.

The US Department of Agriculture would see budget cuts and a refocusing of research areas, including:

  • Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funding equivalent to the FY2016 enacted level, but below the FY2017 Agricultural Appropriations bills
  • The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) would be “refocused” on the following areas: productivity, sustaining natural resources, and food safety and nutrition

The National Science Foundation was not included in the “skinny budget” as a separate line item, though it is likely included in the “Other Agencies” line in the budget document. Notably, Lewis-Burke Associates notes that “cuts to NSF would not be needed to reach the Administration’s overall domestic discretionary targets.” Other sources note that the “Other Agencies” have a proposed 9.8% cut.

As stated earlier, most experts believe that Congress’s budget will be quite different from this blueprint. Many analysts suggest that we think of the budget blueprint as a campaign document rather than a serious indication of what to expect. For context, Brian Resnick of Vox reports that the 21st Century Cures Act, signed in December, increased the NIH budget by approximately $4 billion and passed with 94% of the Senate vote and received 344 votes in the House (see http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/16/14940444/2018-budget-trump-science-nih).

Thus, the 21st Century Cures Act demonstrates the continuing bipartisan support for science funding, and we anticipate that there will be many more discussions regarding the extent to which the Administration’s priorities will be enacted.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research will continue to keep our community informed, and if you have any questions, please contact Amy Gantt in the Office of Research Development (amy.gantt@tufts.edu).