Research funding cuts in President’s first budget

The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget blueprint was released Thursday morning. As expected there are major cuts to nondefense programs to offset increases in defense, homeland security and veterans affairs. The budget adheres to the overall current law spending cap, but changes the defense and nondefense allocation. The proposal would increase defense spending by $54 billion, thereby decreasing nondefense programs by $54 billion. This would require a change in current law.

The blueprint is a summary of funding for agencies and highlights some programs for cuts or increases, but does not provide funding details. Those details are likely to follow in May with the release of a more detailed budget. 

It is important to note that this document represents the budget priorities, particularly the campaign promise to increase defense spending, of President Trump. However it does not necessarily represent the budget priorities of Congress, who is tasked with the actual job of determining funding levels. This is the beginning a months-long process to set funding. The ASA, CSSA and SSSA Science Policy Office will be advocating for science funding every step of the way. Stay informed of the latest budget news on the Budget and Appropriations webpage.

Below is an overview of federal research funding programs


Under Trump’s plan, USDA is slated for a $4.7 billion or 21 percent decrease. These cuts appear to be largely obtained by eliminating Forest Service land acquisition, the Water and Wastewater loan and grant program and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program.

While there are not many research program specifics, the budget “continues to support farmer-focused research and extension partnerships at land-grant universities.” It would also "focus" ARS research on the highest priority agriculture and food issues, but does not indicate a funding level. On a positive note, the proposal highlights and provides “about $350 million” for AFRI. To put this in perspective, this is flat funding from the current FY17 continuing resolution level. While not the increase we have grown accustomed to seeing, it is not a significant cut either.

Department of Energy

The DOE’s budget is $28 billion, a $1.7 billion or 5.6% decrease from the current levels. ARPA-E is eliminated and the Office of Science would take a $900 million cut under the proposal.

National Science Foundation

There is no mention of NSF in the blueprint.

National Institutes of Health

Under the President’s budget, NIH would see a $5.8 billion cut. This includes a major reorganization, consolidations and structural changes across NIH organizations and activities.

Environmental Protection Agency

It’s was a long-term campaign promise that EPA would be subject to major cuts. The request would cut EPA by $2.6 billion or 31 percent.


NASA comes out relatively unscathed. Overall the budget request provides $19.1 billion, a 0.8 percent decrease. As has been widely reported, the NASA budget focuses on deep space exploration and deprioritizes Earth-centric research. However, earth science still would receive $1.8 billion, a modest $102 million cut.

U.S. Geological Survey

The blueprint provides "more than $900 million" for USGS which is currently funded at $1.1 billion, amounting to flat funding or perhaps a small funding decrease. The request specifically highlights the importance of research and data collection within USGS.