The Biden Administration will release its first full budget on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The release of the budget fills in the blanks from the broad overview the Administration released on April 9. That document included the allocation between domestic (non-defense) spending at $769 billion and defense spending at $753 billion. That amounts to a 1.7 percent increase in defense spending with some saying that is too little and others saying it should be a cut further. At the same time the non-defense amounts to approximately a 15.9 percent increase. This is the first budget since the ten-year budget caps expired.
The Thursday release will provide the full line by line details by agencies and departments. There were some specifics the Administration highlighted in April such as:
- A proposal described as addressing racial inequity in the child welfare system by providing $100 million in new competitive grants for states and localities to advance reforms that would reduce the overrepresentation of children and families of color in the child welfare system and address the disparate experiences and outcomes of these families.
- The discretionary request also provides $200 million for states and community-based organizations to respond to and prevent child abuse. Presumably, this will be the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention grants (CB-CAP).
- Addressing entrenched disparities in education with a discretionary request proposal of $36.5 billion investment in Title I grants, a historic $20 billion increase from the 2021 enacted level.
- $5 billion over eight years in support of evidence-based community violence prevention programs. This would include job training for formerly incarcerated individuals and justice-involved youth and in improving public safety.
- A discretionary request of $15.5 billion, a $2.6 billion an increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants that would support special education and related services for more than 7.5 million Pre-K through grade 12 students. A significant first step toward fully funding IDEA.
Throughout the April document there is an emphasis on racial equity by targeting funds to address past historical discrimination. This included a wide range of agencies, departments, and programs from areas as diverse as justice, health, transportation, human services, and the environment.
The budget release will kick-start the appropriations process which requires passage of 12 bills. The House leadership has already said they would reserve the second half of July for floor debate and passage of appropriations. They will attempt to return to traditions of the past when the House had passed all their appropriations by the August break. In between now and July, the 12 subcommittees will begin to act. The new potential for progress may be the return of a more-limited version of appropriations “earmarks” by legislators that target projects within their district. Regardless of past criticism, it may mean that members who would have taken a free vote against bills as a political protest (knowing they would pass anyway), may be more willing to vote for a bill if it means getting something targeted toward their congressional/state district. A yes vote may be required and that may help the process move forward.