Trump Budget Blueprint Calls for 13-Percent Cut to Education Department

March 2017

The Donald Trump administration issued its preliminary proposal for the 2018 fiscal year (FY) budget on March 16. As in past presidential transition years, the administration’s first budget is more of a blueprint for the president’s priorities. While there is much to be concerned about in the “skinny” budget—including a proposed 13 percent cut to the Education Department—there was no specific mention of education research. 

The budget blueprint calls for cutting the Education Department by $9 billion but specifies only $5 billion, so the administration would need to find an additional $4 billion. The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) could be part of that, but has not yet been mentioned as a target.

The National Science Foundation isn’t even mentioned in the budget, but is assumed to be considered in the “other agencies” category that is targeted for an anticipated 10-percent cut. The full budget is expected to be released in mid-May.

Several congressional Republicans—including Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Tom Cole (R-OK), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS)—have expressed opposition to some proposed cuts in the “skinny” budget. This indicates that the final budget may look quite different from what the administration has proposed.

AERA is actively advocating for the federal investment in education research in a broad variety of ways. In addition to AERA delegation Hill visits earlier this month, AERA submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) on March 8.

AERA will be submitting testimony to the Senate LHHS subcommittee and the House and Senate subcommittees for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies later this year. In addition, AERA signed onto the Dear Colleague letter that Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) is circulating requesting $8 billion for NSF in FY 2018.

AERA has signed on to several appropriations requests from coalitions advocating for federal agencies that support education research. The Friends of IES, of which AERA is a leading member, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership of the LHHS subcommittees requesting $670 million for IES in 2018. AERA also will be supporting the request of $8 billion for NSF in a letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding, as well as a letter from the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research with a request of a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health over the final FY 2017 appropriation level.

In addition, AERA is working with a broad coalition of colleagues in the Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) United coalition to address concerns about the budget in general. AERA recently signed a letter from more than 2,000 organizations in the coalition that oppose cuts to nondefense programs. AERA also signed a letter from a coalition of organizations led by the Association of Public Data Users that urged support for the federal statistical infrastructure and data systems.

While the Trump administration and Congress are gearing up for FY 2018, there is still unfinished business in FY 2017, as the current continuing resolution expires on April 28. News reports indicate that the administration is proposing cuts to specific programs for the remainder of FY 2017. Although this is a non-starter in Congress, the proposal would target the NSF accounts for Research and Related Activities and Education.