Contact: Jared King
President Trump submits his fiscal 2020 budget request to Congress
WASHINGTON—On March 11, President Trump submitted his $4.7 trillion fiscal 2020 budget request to Congress. In the past two years, President Trump proposed significant cuts in his budget which were rejected by Congress. If Congress remains consistent with prior years, they will reject those proposed cuts and continue to fund Indian programs.
Recently, the U.S. Department of the Interior published its Indian affairs budget and justification. Here is a summary of the proposed numbers in Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request that affect Indian tribes. All noted increases or decreases in funding is based on a comparison to fiscal 2019 continuing resolution levels. First, the Trump budget proposes $12.8 billion for the U.S. Department of Interior, which is a cut of $700 million. This is not as large as the requested cut from last year of $1.8 billion, but still a reduction.
Included in the Interior Department’s budget is $1.9 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which is a significant $110 million decrease. Nearly half of this proposed cut is from the construction budget, which Trump is requesting a $57.4 million reduction.
This is also the first year where the BIA budget has been separated from the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) budget. The Interior Department has indicated that they are establishing the BIE “as an independent bureau with a separate budget structure to advance ongoing BIE reforms.”
Consistent with last year’s request, the Interior Department proposes $409 million for Public Safety and Justice, which is a $3.6 million increase. The Interior Department’s budget request for road maintenance is $34.9 million, which is an increase of about $240,000. Some additional highlights include the Interior Department's proposed decrease to social services by $1.3 million, decrease to Indian Child Welfare Act by $5.7 million and decrease to the resources management (which includes Agriculture, Forestry, Water Resources, Fish, Wildlife and Parks) by $20 million.
As previously indicated, the Interior Department proposes a $57.4 million decrease in overall construction funding which is over half of the proposed cuts to BIA, however this does not include Education Construction. If $169 million cut from Education Construction is included, the total requested cut to construction funding is $226.4 million. In comparison to last year, Trump proposed a cut to construction funding of $57 million, including education construction. However, Congress did not listen to Trump’s requested cuts for fiscal 2019 and restored all construction funding in the fiscal 2019 appropriations.
The Resource Management Construction line item proposes a decrease of $31 million. As a part of this, the Interior Department requested $3.23 million for the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project, which is a $172,000 proposed reduction. Last year, Congress restored funding for these line items in the fiscal 2019 appropriations.
The Interior Department’s Indian Land and Water Claim Settlements are requested to be cut by $9.8 million to $45.6 million. In the Bureau of Reclamation budget, it proposes funding for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project in the amount of $69.2 million, which is a proposed decrease of $421,000.
The Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation has yet to issue its budget request publicly.
The BIE is proposed to be cut by $216 million to $936 million. About $169 million (78 percent) of these proposed cuts are in education construction. The 2020 budget for BIE-funded schools includes $727 million (including forward funding) for Elementary and Secondary programs, which is an increase of about $6 million. Post Secondary Programs is requested to be cut by $60 million to $98 million.
Trump requested a cut to Education Construction from $169 million to $69 million under the BIE budget and no new funding for replacement school and facility construction. However, the budget does indicate that, with the funds currently available, they will complete facility replacement projects at Many Farms Community School and Atsa Biyaazh Community School and initiate the next approved facilities replacement project. The budget request also does not propose funding for replacement school construction. However, with the funds they have from prior years, they will complete Cove Day School and Little Singer Community School, which was on the 2004 construction list. The budget also states that they have construction funding for Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle Community School, which was on the 2016 school replacement list. Five other schools on the Navajo Nation are in the planning stage.
The U.S. Department of Education also requested $176 million for the Indian education budget, which is a decrease of $4 million from fiscal 2019 appropriations. This $4 million cut comes out of the Special Programs for Indian Children which will be reduced to $64 million. Additionally, funding is proposed to remain the same for National Activities at $6.9 million and grants to local educational agencies at $105 million. National Activities provides support for the continuation of about $2 million in awards for Native American language immersions grants.
For the Indian Health Service, Trump requests $5.9 billion for the Indian Health Service, which is $391 million increase. The Clinical, Preventive Health and other services are proposed for an increase of $320 million to $4.3 billion. The budget proposed a $66 million cut for Facilities to $803 million. Most of the cuts come from the Health Care Facilities Construction, which is proposed to be cut by $77.7 million to $166 million. This includes $60.2 million in funding for the Bodaway Gap Health Center. The Special Diabetes Program for Indians will be budgeted at $150 million, which is the same as last fiscal year. Contract Support Costs will continue to be fully funded. The budget also proposes to make cuts to Health Education, Community Health
Representatives, Urban Health, Indian Health Professions, Tribal Management Grant Program and Direct Operations line items.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development budget requests $600 million for the Native American Housing Block Grant Program, which is $155 million below the fiscal 2019 appropriations. Additionally, the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance is requested for a $229 million increase to $22.2 billion. The budget proposes to eliminate the Indian Community Development Block Grant funding, which was about $65 million for fiscal 2019. Lastly, the budget requests $2.5 million for the Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Program, which is about $1.5 million increase over fiscal 2019 appropriations.
With regards to justice and public safety programs, the U.S. Department of Justice reported budget requests of $523 million in total resources for the Indian Country, $127 million for the Office of Justice Programs, $56 million for the Office of Violence Against Women to support tribal governments and coalitions, and $1.4 million for the Office of Tribal Justice. Additionally, another $223 million will be made available for other Indian Country investments in other USDOJ components.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s budget request for the Tribal Transportation Program is $505 million, which is an increase of $10 million. The budget also requests $1 billion for Infrastructure for Rebuilding America discretionary grant program, which provides financial assistance to States, metro planning organizations, and tribal governments to complete highway and freight projects.
The budget request for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is $6.1 billion, which is a significant $2.7 billion decrease from the fiscal 2019 appropriations. It also requests to eliminate 13 percent of the EPA workforce. The budget also seeks $2.7 billion for State and Tribal Assistance Grants, which is approximately a $830 million decrease.
With regards to the U.S. Department of Energy, the budget request for the Indian Energy Policy and Programs is $8 million, which is a $10 million decrease.
With regards to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the budget requests $130 million for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, which is a $153 million decrease from fiscal 2019. The budget also requests $69.1 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is a decrease of about $4.4 billion. The Child Nutrition Programs is budgeted for $23.9 billion which is an increase of approximately $804 million.
Now that Trump has submitted his budget request to Congress, the Congressional appropriation committees will work on the fiscal 2020 appropriations. As part of Congress’ work on fiscal 2020 appropriations, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies already held hearings on the Indian Affairs funding on March 6-7. President Jonathan Nez testified at this hearing on March 7 to support increased funding for Indian programs.
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