Biden Details $1.52 Trillion Spending Proposal to Fund Discretionary Priorities

WASHINGTON – President Biden on Friday outlined a huge spike in federal spending, calling for a 16 percent increase in domestic programs to use government power to reverse what officials have described as a decade of underinvestment in the country’s most pressing problems.

The proposed $ 1.52 trillion spending on discretionary programs would significantly boost education, health research and the fight against climate change. It comes on top of Mr. Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package and a separate plan to spend $ 2.3 trillion on the country’s infrastructure.

Mr Biden’s first spending proposal to Congress shows his belief that enlargement, not contraction, of the federal government is critical to economic growth and prosperity. It would channel billions of dollars into reducing inequalities in housing and education, and ensuring that every government agency puts climate change high on their agenda.

It does not include tax proposals, economic forecasts, or so-called mandatory programs like social security, all of which will be included in a formal budget document that the White House will publish this spring. And it does not reflect the spending called for in Mr Biden’s infrastructure plan or any other effort that he has not yet made that is aimed at workers and families.

The plan represents a sharp break with the policies of President Donald J. Trump, whose budget proposals prioritize military spending and border security while trying to cut funding in areas such as environmental protection.

Among the key new spending initiatives, the plan would allocate an additional $ 20 billion to help schools look after low-income children and provide more money to students who have experienced racial or economic barriers to higher education. It would create a billion dollar program to study diseases like cancer and add $ 14 billion to tackle and adapt to the harms of climate change.

It would also seek to boost the economies of Central American countries, where widespread poverty, corruption and devastating hurricanes have fueled migration to the southwestern border, as well as a range of initiatives to combat homelessness and housing affordability, including in tribal areas. And it calls for national defense spending to be increased by around 2 percent.

Overall, the proposal envisages an increase in discretionary spending by $ 118 billion in fiscal 2022 compared to base spending for that year. The aim is to use the expiry of a decade of upper limits for spending growth, which the legislature approved in 2010 but was often violated in the following years.

Administrative officials on Friday would not specify whether this increase would result in higher federal deficits in their upcoming budget proposal, but promised that the entire budget would “address the overlapping challenges we face in a tax and economically responsible manner”.

Congress has yet to approve the budget. In recent years, lawmakers have opposed many of the Trump administration’s efforts to core domestic programs.

But Biden’s plan, while incomplete as a budget, could provide a blueprint for Democrats, who tightly control the House and Senate and are eager to reassert their spending priorities after four years of a Republican White House.

The Democratic leaders of Congress welcomed the plan on Friday and suggested adding it to government spending for fiscal year 2022. The plan “includes long overdue and historic investments in jobs, worker education, schools, food security, infrastructure and housing,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the grants committee.

Republicans criticized the proposal in detail as a skeleton, calling it a far-reaching expansion of the federal government. They also said the government had not spent enough on defense to counter a growing threat from China.

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April 9, 2021, 3:29 p.m. ET

“While President Biden has spent trillions on the priorities of the Liberal wish-list here at home, funding for the American military is neglected,” a group of top Republicans including Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said in a joint statement .

Progressives in the house made the opposite complaint: Mr Biden was spending too much on the military.

“A proposed $ 13 billion increase in defense spending is way too much given the already rapid growth in an era of relative peace,” said Democrat Mark Pocan, Democrat of Wisconsin. “We can’t do better if the Pentagon’s budget is bigger than it was under Donald Trump.

While the White House has not indicated how or whether it could pay for the increased spending, the plan provides for $ 1 billion of new funding for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce tax laws, including “increased oversight of high-income people.” and corporate tax returns. “This is clearly aimed at increasing tax revenue by combating tax avoidance by corporations and the rich.

In a letter accompanying the proposal on Friday, Shalanda D. Young, acting as Mr. Biden’s Acting Budget Director, told Congress leaders that the discretionary spending process is an “important opportunity to continue building stronger foundations for the future and turning around.” Legacy of chronic divestment into crucial priorities. “

The administration is particularly focused on spending on education and sees it as a way to help children escape poverty. Mr Biden called on Congress to increase funding for high poverty schools by $ 20 billion. This is the largest year-over-year increase in the Title I program since its inception under President Lyndon B. Johnson. The program finances schools with high numbers of students from low-income families, mostly through the provision of support programs and support staff.

The plan also sees an increase in early childhood education, billions in programs for students with disabilities, and efforts to fill schools with nurses, counselors and mental health professionals – described as an attempt to help children get away from the pandemic recover, but also a long-standing priority for teacher unions.

Mr Biden announced the education funding in remarks to reporters at the White House. “The data shows that a child from a low-income household will be empowered when they go to school – not daycare – but to school at 3 and 4 years of age. There is overwhelming evidence that it will compete all the way through high school and beyond, ”he said.

There is no talk of tying the federal dollar to accountability measures for teachers and schools, as was often the case under President Barack Obama.

The proposal also shows an increasing urgency in the Biden administration to prevent migration to the southwest border while violating Mr Trump’s border security policy. Republicans criticized Mr Biden on Friday for failing to top up border patrol funds or borrowing money to complete Mr Trump’s efforts to build a wall across the southern border with Mexico.

Instead, Mr. Biden suggested investing $ 861 million in Central America. This is part of the four-year $ 4 billion package the government has spent on improving the region’s economy and quality of life. Another $ 1.2 billion would be used to invest in border security technologies such as sensors to detect illegal crossings and tools to improve ports of entry. It also included increased oversight of customs and border protection, as well as immigration and customs enforcement, including money for investigating complaints from workers related to white supremacy.

Justice Department funding reflects yet another shift from the Trump era, where civil rights issues and domestic terrorism take precedence rather than a focus on street crime and gang violence.

Mr Biden also used the spending breakdown to show how he would achieve his vision that every head of cabinet, be it military leaders, diplomats, financial regulators or federal housing planners, have the responsibility to incorporate climate change into their missions.

The proposal aims to embed climate programs in agencies such as the Ministries of Agriculture and Labor, which are not normally seen as front-runners in tackling global warming. That money would be used on top of the clean energy spending in Mr Biden’s proposed infrastructure legislation, which would put about $ 500 billion into programs like increasing the production of electric vehicles and building climate-resilient roads and bridges.

Much of the proposed increase would go into research and development of advanced low-carbon energy technologies that would be channeled through the Department of Energy’s network of national laboratories.

The energy department’s funds would increase $ 4.3 billion, or 10.2 percent, year over year. This includes $ 1.7 billion for the research and development of technologies such as new nuclear power plants or hydrogen fuels, as well as $ 1.9 billion for a new clean energy initiative to help make households more energy efficient and approve Speeding transmission lines for wind and solar energy across the country. Mr Biden has suggested further spending on these efforts in his infrastructure plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency, whose funding and staffing the Trump administration wanted to cut, would receive a $ 2 billion increase under Mr Biden’s plan.

Health funding will also be prioritized, with discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, the federal government’s center of pandemic response, increasing nearly 25 percent to $ 131.7 billion. This includes a $ 1.6 billion increase in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been viewed by public health experts as chronically underfunded and neglected to public health emergencies.

Almost a billion dollars would flow into the Strategic National Stockpile, the country’s emergency medical reserve, to carry out supplies and restructuring efforts that began last year. Almost $ 7 billion would create an agency to research diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

The coverage was written by Coral Davenport, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Lisa Friedman, Brad Plumer, Christopher Flavelle, Mark Walker, Dana Goldstein, Mark Walker, Noah Weiland, Margot Sanger-Katz, Lara Jakes, Noam Scheiber, Katie Benner and Emily Cochrane .

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