Biden Kicks Off Budget Negotiations with $6 Trillion Request
Environmental, Climate Programs Highlighted
The White House submitted a $6 trillion budget for the 2022 fiscal year to Congress on May 27, representing the most sustained spending in over 50 years. The budget proposed by the White House is the President' Biden’s initial offer to Congress in negotiations over the federal budget and is likely to change before becoming law. It calls for spending to jump to more than $8 trillion by 2031.
Even before the budget was sent, Congressional Republicans were expressing alarm over both the spending amount and how it would affect the deficit; the request forecasts deficits at more than $1 trillion for at least the next decade. The president’s request predicts economic growth of just 2 percent or less per year for most of the next decade, after factoring in inflation. Most economists agree with the growth assessment, an unusual event since administrations historically pad growth figures to make their budgets more palatable to lawmakers.
President Biden has already outlined two sweeping proposals -- the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan -- to rebuild and expand the nation’s infrastructure and remake its social safety net. The newly released budget comes as negotiations intensify to reach a bipartisan deal on the large-scale infrastructure and jobs proposal.
Request Seeks to Give EPA its Largest-Ever Budget
As expected, the White House made combatting climate change and cleaning up the environment a key feature in the budget, calling for major boosts in Environmental Protection Agency funding to increase its staffing, as well as its core rulemaking and enforcement programs. Biden’s request also calls for more than $1.4 billion to support marginalized communities most impacted by pollution, including nearly $950 million for a new EPA initiative to accelerate environmental justice and clean up pollution in those communities.
The Biden budget request seeks a 24% increase in funding of key EPA environmental programs and a 7.5% boost in staffing to get the job done, according to a detailed blueprint released by EPA. The request represents the largest budget ever proposed for the EPA.
Specifically, the plan calls for $3.4 billion for EPA’s Clean Air Act, Clean Water, and other core programs, up from $2.8 billion in the current budget. The funding would encompass a wide range of activities, including creating ambient air quality standards and overseeing hazardous waste management by states. EPA’s staffing level would rise to about 15,200 full-time employees under the proposal, ensuring that “all EPA offices have the operational budgets and workforces they need to deliver for the American people,” Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.
Congress generally uses the president’s budget request as the starting point for negotiations, so Biden’s request is unlikely to pass as proposed. Still, Biden’s initial budget highlights the White House’s prioritization of the environment and combatting climate change.
Biden Plan Seeks Greater Environmental Research
The Biden plan includes significant boosts in research across government, including at EPA, which would see a 13.8% lift in funding for research. EPA’s Regan said the money would go toward new scientific research on air emissions, water contaminants, chemical safety, sustainable communities and other issues that could be used to underpin new regulations.
Since Regan was confirmed, EPA has vowed to propose new regulations that will require scientific justification. The agency’s proposed research budget would rise from $729.3 million to $830 million under the Biden plan.
The budget restores the Air, Climate and Energy Research Program and increases its base funding to $60 million for expanded research on air monitoring, national ambient air quality standards, assistance for local clean air plans, and climate change.
The budget also envisions providing $4 billion to the Interior Department, NASA and other agencies for broad research to make the nation more resilient to the effects of climate change. The request also seeks $10 billion in overall clean energy research targeting infrastructure, transportation and industry.
According to a breakdown released by the EPA, $75 million would fund research that informs the regulatory process around per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances enforcement and hazardous substance designation. Many industries, including the liquid terminal industry, use PFAS-containing foams to put out fires. The budget also seeks an additional $15 million for chemical safety and toxics standards work under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Biden Seeks to Make Climate a Priority
Unlike the Trump administration, which unsuccessfully tried to zero out funding for clean energy programs, Biden’s budget seeks $14 billion in new money across government agencies to develop policies and programs devoted to climate. This includes $1.2 billion for the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations program created as part of the Paris climate accord t to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gasses and manage the effects of climate change.
The Biden administration said funding across agencies would aid the U.S.’ transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The budget would slash federal government spending on fossil fuels, including by withdrawing $35 billion worth of subsidies over the next decade for oil, gas and coal companies. This would include the repeal of tax breaks for well depreciation and a tax credit for drilling expenses. The administration also seeks to raise an additional $84 billion by changing how the government treats production and foreign income for oil and natural gas companies.