OMB Briefing on President Biden’s FY2022 Discretionary Request; April 9, 2021

Shalanda Young (Acting Director and Deputy Director of OMB)

  • Primary goal of the Discretionary request is to give Congress the guidance it needs to begin the appropriations process.
  • This year’s appropriation process is especially important. Over past decade due to overly restrictive budget caps, the country has significantly underinvested in core public services, benefits, and protections. Those caps have now expired.
  • The President believes that now is the time to reverse that trend and reinvest in the foundations of the country’s strengths.
  • Highlights:
    • Request includes an unprecedented investment in high-poverty schools with $36.5 billion in Title I grants, a $20 billion increase from the current fiscal year. Largest year over year increase since the inception of the Title I program.
    • Includes $6.5 billion to launch the Advanced Research Projects Agencies for Health (ARPA-H) which would have an initial focus on cancer and would help drive innovation in health research and accelerate new medical breakthroughs.
    • The request invests in tackling the climate crisis, with an increase of more than $14 billion over FY 2021 across nearly every agency to help carry out core climate functions, secure environmental justice for communities, and help developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. 
    • Proposes $8.6 billion for CDC, the biggest budget authority increase in two decades.
    • Doubles funding for the Violence Against Women Act projections, services, and grants
    • Request takes enormous steps to address inequities with a major $2 billion increase for IHS and nearly $900 million to fund tribal efforts to expand affordable housing and increase economic opportunity for low-income families.
  • Overall, the request includes $769 billion for non-defense discretionary spending, which is a 16 percent increase over FY21 enacted levels. That amount of investment would return category spending to 3.3 percent of GDP, roughly the historical average over the past 30 years.
  • Looking forward to advancing the request. The appropriations process is an opportunity to reverse the legacy of underinvestment. 

Q&A

Question 1: Can someone speak to the components of the budget that would impact veterans and former service members?

  • The request includes substantial investment in the VA building on funding already provided in the American Rescue Plan, including funding veteran’s healthcare, suicide prevention, addressing racial disparities, funding for information technology, and making sure people get the benefits they are entitled to in an efficient and prompt way.

Question 2: The GAO recently issued a report recommending that OMB collect and ensure lessons learned on COVID-19 flexibilities. Does OMB have plans to do so and what are the timelines?

  • Can’t speak to the GAO report or OMB plans around that specifically, but in general we are all learning and sharing lessons from the experiences in the past year and what we have learned about people’s ability to access key federal programs and services and what we can do to protect that.

Question 3: How does this request interact or compliment the infrastructure plan the President announced last week and any future pieces of legislation.

  • The request is distinct from the American Jobs Plan and any future investments in other plans, but they are complementary and share similar goals and values. This is a request for the annual appropriations process and a starting point for negotiations on Congress on that front. 

Question 4: How do the budget numbers interact with things from the American Jobs Plan like childcare? Is there anything to say about substance use disorder funding?

  • We can’t speak to future investments that are coming down the pipeline, but the spending in the budget is non-overlapping with the American Jobs Plan. Anything here will be additional funding numbers. 
  • Substance abuse is an area is where we make significant investments. There is an increase of $3.9 billion over the 2021 enacted levels for research, prevention, treatment, recovery support services, etc. The request also includes large investments in mental health funding and a recognition that the two are related. 

Question 5: Does it address equities around higher education and is there anything on Pell Grants?

  • The request includes significant investments in Pell Grants, increasing the award by $400 and expanding Pell Grant access to Dreamers, and it also includes additional funding for HBCUs. 

Question 6: Can you talk more about funding to combat climate change?

  • This is one of the key investment areas in the budget. Across agencies, there is $14 billion in new funding for climate related activities including, research, investment in adaptation and mitigation, investment in clear energy, investments that would result in reduced emissions, etc. These investments can be found in almost every agency, not just the Department Energy and EPA. 

Question 7: Can you speak to support for rural communities and farm support programs?

  • You will see commitment to rural communities throughout the request. To note, this is just a top line request, so you will not see numbers for every program yet, but there will be some around farm programs. The request includes rural communities in other investment areas as well, like climate investments. 

Question 8: Does the $8.6 billion in funding for the CDC include the Public and Prevention Fund?

  • Would have to get back on that.

Question 9: Can you talk about the defense components of the request?

  • The Discretionary request includes a 1.7 percent increase in total defense spending. It eliminates the OCO category and folds it into base spending. 

Question 10: Can you talk about investments in senior homes, care, and senior services?

 

  • There are significant investments in ACL in particular, and there are complementary investments in home and community based services in the package released last week. This budget only has a focus on discretionary funding so there is nothing on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

 

Question 11: Any investments being made to IRS, big data systems, to modernize processes there?

  • Yes, there are significant investments at the IRS in system improvements, taxpayer services, and tax enforcement. There are other plans to improve and modernize UI systems across other government agencies as well. 

Question 12: Can you speak to investments in science and innovation?

  • There are large, historic investments in NSF, NIH, DOE Office of Science, etc.  The President takes seriously the disinvest that has occurred in foundational research and basic science. 

Question 13: Can you clarify investment in ARPA-H? Where will that be housed and what will be prioritized?

  • That is going to be a new enterprise housed in NIH with an initial focus on cancer and driving rapid health innovation and development in a different way than existing federal programs.

Question 14: Are there any investments for advanced manufacturing?

  • Yes, and it will be a complimentary are to the American Jobs Plan. 

Question 15: Can you speak to foreign aid in the request?

  • You will see significant increases in those areas and a reinvestment in State and Treasury international programs.