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White House Releases 2021 Budget Proposal

Recent news of President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2021 has been of great concern to the University of Tennessee research community. Earlier this week, the White House released a 138-page overview of the president’s budget request. This is the first step in a long process to approve a federal budget. The House and Senate must pass budget resolutions, send it to appropriation committees, vote on those resolutions, and then the president must sign each appropriation for the budget to become law. Ideally, this last step is approved by October 1.

So, this is far from the final version of the federal budget. As you may recall, Congress did not pass the final, approved budget for FY20 until December 16, 2019.

According to Trump’s budget, federal support for basic research would drop 6% to $41 billion and support for applied research would drop 12% to $39 billion. As before, many of the cuts are aimed disproportionately at energy R&D and environmental research programs. The White House budget also identifies a new major priority in R&D referred to as “Industries of the Future,” which will shape federal agency’s’ investments in research. These investments will support the science, technology, innovation and workforce development to ensure that America remains at the forefront of scientific progress, national and economic security, and personal well-being, while continuing to serve as the standard-bearer for today’s emerging technologies and innovations. IotF research areas of emphasis include: advanced manufacturing, advanced wireless (5G and beyond), artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and quantum information science. All agencies that provide funding for R&D have proposed new programs or repositioned existing programs to align with this multi-agency priority.

Department of Commerce: Trump’s budget proposes a 48% decrease for the DOC, which includes major cuts for National Institute of Science Technology (29% cut), Economic Development Administration (elimination), and National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (40% cut in the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research).

Department of Energy: While the White House proposes a 17% cut in the Office of Science’s budget, the budget proposes an 18% increase in the National Nuclear Security Administration, to maintain a “robust and effective” nuclear deterrent. The president has suggested, again, to eliminate ARPA-E, an agency dedicated to “high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment.”

Department of Defense: Under this budget, science and technology funding would receive a relatively generous 4% increase across all three military branches.

Environmental Protection Agency: Trump’s budget would call for 32% cut to science and technology funding for the EPA. The White House prioritizes new programs to address water contaminated with lead and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) while eliminating programs such as EPA’s state-run beach monitoring program.

National Institutes of Health: Funding for NIH would see a 7% cut even as the White House emphasis on responding to the opioid crisis continues with a proposed $5 billion investment for research, surveillance, prevention, treatment, access to overdose reversal drugs, recovery support services,

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): Trump’s budget also calls for the elimination of NEH and NEA because their activities “are not considered core Federal responsibilities.”

The Office of Management and Budget released supplemental documentation this week and some federal agencies have released budget justifications (DOD, DOE, NIH, HHS, NASA, USDA, NSF).

If you have any questions about the proposed budget and how it may impact your research, please contact Kimberly Eck (