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Copies of President Donald Trump's first budget are displayed at the Government Printing Office in Washington, Thursday, March, 16, 2017. Trump unveiled a $1.15 trillion budget on Thursday, a far-reaching overhaul of federal government spending that slashes many domestic programs to finance a significant increase in the military and make a down payment on a U.S.-Mexico border wall. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In a proposal titled, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” the White House has released President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2018. The budget focuses heavily on increasing defense spending and “rebuilding the Nation’s military,” while the proposed cuts to scientific agencies and research are deep.

There will be more news on this as the complete and final version of the proposed budget comes out, and also as it makes its way through Congress. But for now, let’s take a look at the funding changes proposed for medical and scientific research.

  • The 2018 budget request for the Department of Human Health and Services, which includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is $69 billion, an 18 percent decrease from this year. Specifically, NIH’s budget is to be cut by $6 billion to $25.9 billion. In the past, more than 80 percent of NIH’s budget went to funding grants to more than 300,000 researchers and scientists. The budget also calls for a “major reorganization of NIH’s Institutes and Centers.” This includes the elimination of the Fogarty International Center and the consolidation of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Within the broader HHS, the budget eliminates $403 million in health professions and nursing training programs that “lack evidence they significantly improve the Nation’s health workforce.” Trump’s budget proposal supports community health centers for low-income and vulnerable populations, as well as substance abuse treatment services—a pillar of Trump’s presidential campaign. The Budget includes a $500 million increase above 2016 levels to expand opioid misuse prevention efforts and to increase access to treatment and recovery services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will get a reform through a $500 million block grant to “increase State flexibility and focus on the leading public health challenges specific to each State.” This also creates a new Federal Emergency Response Fund to rapidly respond to public health outbreaks, such as Zika.
  • The 2018 budget request for the Department of Energy is $28.0 billion—a $1.7 billion or 5.6 percent decrease. "The Budget for DOE demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to reasserting the proper role of what has become a sprawling Federal Government," reads the budget's intro. Trump has requested an increase of $1.4 billion specifically to fund the maintenance of the nuclear weapons stockpile, including $120 million to restart licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and initiate an interim storage program. However, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science would see a $900 million cut, or 18 percent of its $5 billion budget. Trump’s budget seeks to eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, which focuses on renewable energy with roughly $300 million a year. Another elimination is the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program because “the private sector is better positioned to finance disruptive energy research and development and to commercialize innovative technologies.” 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency will see its budget trimmed by $2.6 billion, a 31 percent cut from 2017. This also comes with approximately 3,200 fewer positions at the agency. The budget discontinues all funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs and related efforts. It also eliminates the EPA program to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the accident-investigating Chemical Safety board and a NASA satellite program to monitor Earth’s climate. The EPA’s Office of Research and Development will have its budget cut nearly in half, from $483 to $250 million. In all, the proposal eliminates more than 50 EPA programs. “Lower priority and poorly performing programs and grants are not funded, nor are duplicative functions that can be absorbed into other programs or that are State and local responsibilities. Examples of eliminations in addition to those previously mentioned include: Energy Star; Targeted Airshed Grants; the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program; and infrastructure assistance to Alaska Native Villages and the Mexico Border,” reads the budget.
  • NASA is mostly spared by the budget cuts to other scientific agencies, with Trump requesting $19.1 billion, a 0.8 percent decrease. The Asteroid Redirect Mission is eliminated, and $102 million is deducted from the Earth science portfolio, which will still receive $1.8 billion in funding. The mission to land on Europa is also eliminated, with the budget supporting “initiatives that use smaller, less expensive satellites to advance science in a cost-effective manner.” The Orion crew vehicle and Space Launch System to send astronauts on deep-space missions will continue with $3.7 billion. “NASA will investigate approaches for reducing the costs of exploration missions to enable a more expansive exploration program,” the budget reads. It also provides $1.9 billion for the Planetary Science program, including funding for a mission to repeatedly fly by Jupiter’s icy ocean moon Europa and a Mars rover that would launch in 2020. “The Budget creates new opportunities for collaboration with industry on space station operations, supports public-private partnerships for deep-space habitation and exploration systems, funds data buys from companies operating small satellite constellations, and supports work with industry to develop and commercialize new space technologies,” reads the proposed budget.
  • The 2018 budget would kill more than $250 million in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants and programs that support coast and marine management, research and education, including Sea Grant. “These programs are a lower priority than core functions maintained in the Budget such as surveys, charting, and fisheries management,” according to the budget. What is maintained at NOAA is the current generation of polar orbiting and geostationary weather satellites.

As The Washington Post points out, “the blueprint does not mention the National Science Foundation, which provides more than $7 billion annually in grants. That may fall under the category of ‘other agencies,’ which are not detailed but which the blueprint puts down for a 9.8 percent cut.”

"The Trump administration’s proposed budget would cripple the science and technology enterprise through short-sighted cuts to discovery science programs and critical mission agencies alike," Rush Holt, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) said in a statement emailed to Laboratory Equipment. "Investments in federal research and development (R&D) make significant contributions to economic growth and public wellbeing. The administration’s cuts threaten our nation’s ability to advance cures for disease, maintain our technological leadership, ensure a more prosperous energy future, and train the next generation of scientists and innovators to address the complex challenges we face today and in the future. However, this is the President's proposal, and it’s up to Congress to respond and make decisions on budget and appropriations. Congress has a long bipartisan history of protecting research investments. We encourage Congress to act in the nation’s best interest and support sustainable funding for federal R&D – for both defense and non-defense programs – as it works to address the FY 2018 budget."

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