The US could be making major cuts to its environmental and foreign aid programs in order to spend more on its military in the coming year, President Donald Trump’s administration said Monday.
The White House would like to add $54 billion to the Defense Department’s budget of $600 billion, officials told reporters in a conference call, and to make up the difference, the Environmental Protection Agency and foreign aid could be targeted.
On Friday, Trump said he would oversee “one of the greatest build-ups in American history.”
The budget proposal is merely that — a proposal — that will then head to Congress, which has the authority to finalize how much money federal departments receive each year. That process typically takes months.
The US spends about 1 percent of its budget on foreign aid, about $60 billion, which funds health, nutrition, and government aid programs around the world. The money has helped drastically reduce malaria deaths, maternal mortality, and preventable childhood deaths over the past 30 years, as well as provided AIDS treatment, clean drinking water, and food for many of the world’s poorest people.
The amount the US spends on aid is small, but its effects can be enormous in stabilizing otherwise-volatile foreign countries and cities.
The US already spends the most in the world on its military — in fact it spends as much as the next 14 countries, including China, the U.K., Russia, Japan, France, and India, combined.
Military spending currently accounts for about 15% of the US budget, a number which has dwindled from more than 40% in the 1960s.
The EPA currently has a budget of about $8.5 billion, which pays for federal clean water and land programs, carbon-cutting programs like the Clean Power Plan and recycling and water conservation programs. It also allocates a significant chunk of funding to community programs to help them build greener infrastructure.
Last year’s EPA budget also devoted significant resources to its legal team, which it said has had to handle hundreds more lawsuits in recent years. The new head of the EPA under President Trump, Scott Pruitt, sued the EPA 14 times as attorney general of Oklahoma.
White House officials told Axios to expect “massive, transformational cuts, particularly to climate-change programs,” in the budget proposal.
The budget will still have a project deficit of about $500 billion, the same deficit amount that the final budget under President Obama had.
Trump could talk more about the details of his budget proposal in an address to Congress Tuesday and will present his budget plan in March, when he will also announce about $20 billion in extra funding for plans like the border wall and hiring immigration agents, according to the AP.
The proposed budget plan accounts for about 2.4% growth of the US economy this year. On the campaign trail, Trump promised growth of 4 to 6% if he were elected.