The Trump Administration will release its “skinny budget” this week on either March 15 or March 16. It is referred to as a skinny budget because it will include only “top-line” figures meaning possibly only larger agency and department budgets will be listed without the program specifics. This approach is somewhat traditional for other first year administrations.
In addition, the budget will not include mandatory or entitlement spending. The full budget is targeted for a mid-May release. Despite the lack of detail some signals could be sent. There have been traditional budget leaks but they have caught a great deal of attention with suggestions that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s $8 billion budget will get cut by one-third, that housing programs could be cut by $6 billion and that part of the cost of the wall between the US and Mexico could be partially paid for by cuts to airport security and the Coast Guard.
The big issue is how the Administration will propose to find $54 billion more for the Defense Department under the current budget caps. Key children’s and child welfare spending have been starved over the past five years as a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). To get such significant increases in defense spending President Trump will likely have to amend the Act, something he may only be able to do under standard rules meaning possibly no reconciliation. That would mean that he would need 60 Senate votes and bipartisan support. Some members of Congress, most prominently Senator John McCain (R-AZ), want an additional $50 billion for the Pentagon on top of the President’s request.