Trump floats $54B boost to defense, and matching cuts to civilian agencies

OMB director Mick Mulvaney 

Budget director Mick Mulvaney is looking to civilian agencies for steep cuts for FY2018.

The Trump administration is seeking steep cuts at civilian agencies to support a boost to the defense budget for fiscal year 2018.

A preliminary "budget blueprint" from the White House adds $54 billion to current levels of defense spending for a projected military budget of $603 billion for fiscal year 2017. Civilian agencies will see a $54 billion cut under the plan, "the largest proposed reduction since the early years of the Reagan administration," budget director Mick Mulvaney said a Feb. 27 White House press briefing.

Mulvaney also announced the beginning of the pass-back process for the 2018 budget, in which OMB sends out top-line budget numbers and begins a back-and-forth on how to realize those numbers in a formal spending plan. The administration hopes to have a finalized budget blueprint to Congress by March 16 and a full budget proposal in May.

It's not clear yet precisely how the administration plans to achieve double-digit reductions at civilian agencies. The new plan, Mulvaney said, "reduces money we give to other nations, it reduces duplicative programs and it eliminates programs that simply don't work."

Mulvaney said that the goal was putting President Donald Trump's campaign pledges into action.

"When you see these reductions, you'll be able to tie it back to a speech the president gave or something the president had said previously. We are taking his words and turning them into policies and dollars," he said.

In Feb. 27 remarks to the National Governor's Association, Trump said, "This defense spending increase will be offset and paid for finding greater savings and efficiencies across the federal government. We're going to do more with less."

Trump also touted his own efforts to intervene with contractors on big ticket programs, such as Lockheed Martin and the F-35 fighter, and Boeing and Air Force One.

"We cut the hell out of the prices," he said. "I mean, we saved a lot of money. A tremendous amount of money. On one plane, on a small order of one plane, I saved $725 million. And I would say, I devoted about, if I added it up, all of the calls? Probably about an hour. So I think that might be my highest and best use," he said.

Trump plans to outline his budget plans in a Feb. 28 address to a joint session of Congress.

Capitol Hill Democrats are already pushing back against the proposal.

"As has been shown over and over again the past few years, Republicans cannot complete the appropriations process on their own under sequestration's unrealistic targets," Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement. "President Trump will soon learn that funding federal agencies is much easier with bipartisan cooperation."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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