Trump Administration Unveils Part I of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget

BROADCAST EMAIL: Legislative and Regulatory Update

March 16, 2017

As anticipated, the Trump Administration unveiled today what likely will be the framework for the detailed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 that will be formally transmitted to Congress in May. The “Skinny Budget”, as it is referred to, would make deep cuts at most federal departments and agencies through the elimination of major programs, drastic reductions in other programs and severe cuts in the federal workforce. While the Skinny Budget contains an overview and short summaries for each department, there is no detailed program-by-program budget or summary that is traditionally released. What is known is that the intensely fought and brokered bipartisan agreement and “sequestration rules” that were forged in 2011 with then President Obama and the Congress, would be drastically altered if the budget released today is adopted.

In reviewing the document, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) discretionary spending would be cut by $4.7 billion or a reduction of 21 percent from the expected FY 2017 level (final figures for FY 2017 spending have not yet been finalized since the government is operating on a Continuing Resolution (CR) through April 28). There is no discussion of Rural Housing Service programs within Rural Development (RD). However, the document indicates that the Administration proposes to eliminate its water and waste disposal loan and grant program, which helps with rural water and waste infrastructure. This elimination would result in a savings of nearly $500 million. Aspects of the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, which supports business development in rural communities, would also be eliminated for a savings of $95 million.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would see a $6 billion cut in funding from what had been proposed for the agency in FY 2017. This 13.2 percent cut would propose eliminating funding for the following programs: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership program, the Choice Neighborhoods and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity. While there had been reports last week that the budget would also severely impact the Public Housing Operating and Capital funds and impact the Section 8 voucher program, with flat funding to the Section 8 rental assistance project based program, the document does not list those programs. The reports were that there would be $300 million cut from the Section 8 voucher program, $600 million from Public Housing Operating funds and $1.3 billion cut from the Public Housing Capital Fund.

One program where there would be an increase of $130 million over the anticipated FY 2017 funding, is for the mitigation of lead-based paint and other hazards in rental housing, especially housing occupied by children. Additional funds would also fund enforcement, education, and research activities. During Dr. Ben Carson’s confirmation hearings for Secretary of HUD, lead-based paint was a topic of much discussion and one that was covered in several questions from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). At those hearings, Secretary Carson pledged that lead-based paint abatement would be one of his top priorities. Yet this is a bit of a contradiction in funding priorities elsewhere in the Skinny Budget, as lead-based paint is the sort of environmental protection program that increases construction and operating costs that seem to be targeted at EPA’s programs.

The Department of Treasury’s budget would see a 4.1 percent decrease or $519 million. The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund’s discretionary grant programs would be eliminated and only administrative funding would be provided to oversee the new markets tax credit (NMTC) and other non-discretionary grant programs.

CARH’s board of directors will be meeting next week in Arlington, Virginia. On Thursday, March 23, meetings are being scheduled for board members to meet with key members of Congress to discuss, among other things, the blueprint document released today and then also funding for the remainder of FY 2017 and the Housing Credit and Housing Bond programs.

As indicated above, the full budget will not be released until May. It is vitally important that officials understand the important role that affordable and rural housing programs play in the lives of low and moderate income residents in rural communities across the country. We urge CARH members to invite your members of Congress and their staff to your properties so they can see first-hand the need for funding for these vital programs. For contact information for your Senators, click here, and for your Representatives, click here.

Additionally, if you have a Twitter account, we encourage you to send a Direct Message to your members of Congress to express your concerns about Trump’s Skinny Budget blueprint. Members and their staff follow their Twitter pages closely. Please note, the more “personal” you make your message, the more well received your message will be.

As CARH members know, President Trump has nominated former Governor Sonny Perdue (R-GA) to be the USDA Secretary. However, confirmation hearings have not yet been scheduled which means that other Presidential appointments in the agency have not yet been officially announced.  Thus, it could be several more months before key individuals are in place at the national office and at state offices. While Secretary Carson is in place at HUD, key Deputy Secretaries have also not been vetted. This makes it even more important that CARH members play a pivotal role in garnering support for RD and HUD programs.

Please contact the CARH national office at or 703-837-9001 should you have questions.

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