What’s in Biden’s budget proposal

The Biden administration is seeking massive funding increases toward education, health and the environment, while maintaining current spending levels on defense and homeland security, according to a budget request unveiled Friday. The release begins the annual negotiation process between the president and Congress to determine how funds should be distributed across the government.

Proposed changes to base discretionary funding in Biden’s budget

President Biden’s budget would increase spending by more than 10 percent in 11 of the 15 Cabinet departments. This is a dramatic change from President Donald Trump’s proposals, which often sought to cut spending. Included in most departments’ spending increases is money to address climate change.

[Biden seeks huge funding increases for education, health care and environmental protection in first budget request to Congress]

The budget document includes an array of proposals specifically aimed at helping vulnerable populations, including resources for high-poverty schools, vouchers to reduce homelessness and money to combat the opioid epidemic.

The budget plan includes discretionary spending only — the portion of government spending that is set by annual appropriation acts. Excluded is mandatory spending, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Biden is expected to release a full budget later this spring.

Don’t expect this exact budget proposal to become reality. While Democrats control both the Senate and the House, their margins are slim, so there’s sure to be debate and compromise about where to spend the money and how much the government should grow.

[Biden budget seeks to flip script on Trump administration’s spending priorities]

Biden’s plan is not just a departure from the cuts that Trump sought. For many departments, it also represents a much larger spending increase than what Obama sought for most of his presidency.

For some notable departments, here’s how the past 13 presidential budgets compared in proposed vs. enacted spending.

For Defense, Biden’s ask is below both Obama’s and Trump’s, while for international funding and the EPA he falls short of the monumental requests that Obama made in his first budget.

Here are more details about what’s in each agency’s proposal.

Jump to department

2021 Enacted$24B

2022 Proposal$27.8B


Percent Change+16.0%

The Biden administration’s proposal for the USDA places heavy focus on rural communities, with increased funding for broadband initiatives, water infrastructure, clean energy and initiatives to address rural poverty.

[Read the full Biden budget proposal]

The proposal also includes a $1 billion increase in nutritional safety net programs, additional funding for initiatives in the March stimulus bill and money toward some of the priorities laid out in the American Jobs Plan.

Key proposed changes

  • Proposes funds for infrastructure priorities such as rural broadband access, safe drinking water and addressing orphan oil and gas wells.
  • Increases funding for food assistance programs by more than $1 billion.
  • Expands funding for rural clean energy development by $1.4 billion.
  • Establishes an equity commission to review current farm programs and increases funding for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the USDA.

2021 Enacted$8.9B

2022 Proposal$11.4B


Percent Change+27.7%

The big increase in spending for the Commerce Department would be spread across a number of programs, including research into climate change.

The White House wants a large increase for Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to go toward climate research and helping regional and local leaders with “climate data and tools.”

It also seeks to boost Commerce’s ability to help U.S. companies develop semiconductors and other items that the White House believes are of strategic national importance. And there’s a large proposed increase in a program that aims to assist minority-owned businesses.

2021 Enacted$703.7B

2022 Proposal$715B


Percent Change+1.6%

The proposal for the Pentagon actually represents a slight decrease of about 0.4 percent when adjusted for inflation. The proposal is likely to draw barbs from Republicans, who want increases of 3 to 5 percent annually to upgrade the military, citing the U.S. military competition with China.

Liberal Democrats had called for cuts of at least 10 percent in defense spending, while the Trump administration had forecast spending $722 billion on defense if Donald Trump were reelected.

Key proposed changes

  • The Biden team cites concerns about China in its defense budget request. Priorities include continued investments in building up the Navy, which the Biden administration said is “critical to reassuring allies and signaling U.S. resolve to potential adversaries.” It also includes investment in long-range missiles, which are seen as key to any conflict in the Pacific.
  • The budget documents signal a process called “divest legacy systems,” the elimination of some older military equipment. Those kinds of cuts have run into trouble with Congress in the past as they can affect jobs and spending in the home districts of lawmakers.
  • The Pentagon during the Biden administration will prioritize climate change, with money set aside to make military installations more resilient.

2021 Enacted$73B

2022 Proposal$102.8B


Percent Change+40.8%

The increase of $20 billion for the Title I program represents a historic increase for a program that funnels federal dollars to schools serving a significant number of children in poverty. The proposal would more than double funding for the program, to $36.5 billion. That falls short of Biden’s campaign promise to triple spending on the program. Still, it would represent a huge increase, particularly because it comes on top of the rescue act, which just pumped $122 billion to K-12 schools, most of it allocated by the Title I formula.

On higher education, Biden had promised to double Pell Grants, which help low- and moderate-income students pay for college. His proposal for a $400 increase to the maximum award, now at $6,495, falls far short of that. But it would increase spending on the program, now at about $30 billion, by $3 billion. He also would make “dreamers,” who came to the country illegally as children, eligible for the program.

Key proposed changes

  • Proposes $2.6 billion more for special education services to students with disabilities over last year’s allocation. That would bring the total federal contribution to $15.6 billion, about 15 percent of the total costs, and about even with current funding when emergency spending is included. Biden has said he will put the government on a path to funding 40 percent of the total within 10 years.
  • Significantly ramps up funding for community schools, which provide comprehensive services to students and their families, and creates a new $100 million grant program to promote racial and economic desegregation.

2021 Enacted$41.8B

2022 Proposal$46.1B


Percent Change+10.2%

The White House wants to boost resources for the department with a sprawling portfolio that includes conducting physics experiments, running supercomputers and researching alternative forms of producing energy. But the bulk of the department’s budget goes to maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapon arsenal.

Key proposed changes

  • Spends more than $8 billion, amounting to an increase of at least 27 percent, on the next generation of nuclear reactors, electric vehicles and other alternatives to burning fossil fuels.
  • Provides $1 billion to two start-up incubators meant to fund technological breakthroughs in combating climate change.
  • Gives $7.4 billion, or a $400 million boost, to the Office of Science, which leads government research into physics, chemistry and other basic science at national laboratories across the country.

2021 Enacted$9.2B

2022 Proposal$11.2B


Percent Change+21.3%

Biden is proposing a big funding increase to the agency that will be at the center of his administration’s fight against climate change and the disproportionate impact pollution has on poor and minority communities.

The boost stands in contrast to the deep budget cuts proposed under Trump, who tried unsuccessfully to eliminate several dozen agency programs altogether. Yet even under President Barack Obama, the EPA’s budget remained stagnant as gridlock gripped Congress.

Key proposed changes

  • Adds $48 million in funding for the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation to hire back staff lost under Trump and write new rules combating climate change and stopping the formation of smog in cities.
  • Provides $3.6 billion for water infrastructure, a $625 million boost above last year, to replace lead water lines, repair septic systems and make other improvements.
  • Spends $936 million on a new environmental justice initiative meant to improve air quality and ramp up environmental enforcement in cities and rural areas traditionally overburdened with pollution.

2021 Enacted$108.6B

2022 Proposal$133.7B


Percent Change+23.1%

Biden has argued that the coronavirus outbreak has demonstrated the need to robustly fund the nation’s public health response.

The administration would make new investments to fight the opioid epidemic after drug-related overdose deaths spiked during the pandemic and to ramp up the response to ongoing public health challenges like HIV/AIDS.

The budget also calls for new investments in programs to address racial disparities in health care, reduce the risks of childbirth and support survivors of domestic violence.

Biden also vowed to launch new research into the health effects of gun violence and climate change.

Key proposed changes

  • Adds $1.6 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the biggest annual jump in nearly 20 years, positioned as an investment to head off the next pandemic and restore the embattled agency’s luster.
  • Adds $9 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health, including $6.5 billion to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), which would initially focus on cancer and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Adds $3.9 billion in funding targeting the opioid crisis through new grants and resources for states, researchers and other responders. HHS also is proposing to expand the workforce of behavioral health specialists.
  • Adds $2.2 billion for the Indian Health Service and proposes other changes to create more predictable funding for the program, responding to complaints from public health experts that efforts to provide care for Native Americans and Alaska Natives have been chronically underfunded.

2021 Enacted$59.6B

2022 Proposal$68.7B


Percent Change+15.1%

Biden is proposing a large increase in funding to expand access to affordable housing, address homelessness, modernize deteriorating infrastructure in historically marginalized communities, boost homeownership and enforce laws against housing discrimination.

Biden’s proposal for HUD signals a new era for the embattled agency, whose funding and mission to serve America’s poor was consistently threatened under the Trump administration.

HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said Biden’s funding request “turns the page on years of inadequate and harmful spending requests and instead empowers HUD to meet the housing needs of families and communities across the country.”

Key proposed changes

  • Adds $5.4 billion (for a total of $30.4 billion) to expand federal housing vouchers to help 200,000 additional low-income families, including those at risk of homelessness or people fleeing domestic violence, rent in the private market. The vouchers will also help families who live in racially segregated, poor neighborhoods move to communities with better access to work, transit and educational opportunities.
  • Provides $3.5 billion, an increase of $500 million, to prevent and reduce homelessness. The Homeless Assistance Grants would support more than 100,000 additional households, including survivors of domestic violence and homeless youths.
  • Provides $1.9 billion, including a $500 million increase, to boost affordable housing supply with new construction and rehabilitation of rental housing.

2021 Enacted$15B

2022 Proposal$17.4B


Percent Change+16.3%

The administration’s proposal — nearly $5 billion more than Trump’s last proposal — marks a clear about-face from how the previous administration managed the nation’s land.

It provides more money for liberal priorities: more climate science, increased education and law enforcement on tribal lands and an expansion of access to national parks, as well as historical sites, for racial minorities to tell the story of civil rights and human rights struggles.

Key proposed changes

  • Proposes $4 billion for tribal programs, an increase of $600 million from the amount Congress approved last year.
  • Instead of increases provided for fossil fuel production under Trump, the current proposal more than doubles the budget to remediate or heal the land scarred by that activity to $450 million.
  • Increases funds set aside for adaptations to climate change by $550 million and provides $200 million more for climate studies by agencies such as the U.S. Geological Survey.

2021 Enacted$33.4B

2022 Proposal$35.2B


Percent Change+5.3%

The Justice Department’s proposal reflects the Biden administration’s new priorities of tougher enforcement of civil rights laws, more federal agents and prosecutors assigned to pursue domestic terrorism cases, and an increase in grants to local law enforcement agencies to fight gun crime and reform police departments.

Key proposed changes

  • Increases discretionary spending for the Civil Rights Division, Community Relations Service and other programs by $33 million for a total of $209 million.
  • Spends an additional $101 million to address the growing threat of domestic terrorism. Nearly half of that money would go to the FBI, which has seen its number of domestic terrorism cases double in the past year, while $40 million would go to prosecutor offices to handle the growing workload.

2021 Enacted$56.7B

2022 Proposal$63.5B


Percent Change+11.9%

The Biden administration is seeking a major budget increase for the State Department and other international programs in an effort to revitalize Washington’s diplomatic muscle after what it calls “four years of neglect” by the Trump administration.

The Trump White House sought deep cuts at the State Department every year, which Congress largely ignored.

Key proposed changes

  • Proposes $1.2 billion toward helping developing countries reduce carbon emissions.
  • Proposes $861 million in assistance to Central America in the hopes of lessening the root causes of migration.
  • Proposes an additional $1 billion toward global health security designed to boost research to detect and stamp out future infectious-disease outbreaks “before they become pandemics.”

2021 Enacted$12.5B

2022 Proposal$14.2B


Percent Change+14.0%

The administration proposes increasing Labor Department funding to restaff worker protection agencies, expand workforce development programs and address shortcomings in the unemployment system.

Key proposed changes

  • Proposes $2.1 billion to worker protection agencies, an increase of $304 million.
  • Increases funding to Registered Apprenticeships by more than 50 percent, requests $100 million to train a clean energy workforce and increases funding to employment services for laid-off workers, low-income adults and at-risk youths.
  • Invests $100 million in information technology to address delays and inequities in state unemployment insurance programs.

2021 Enacted$22.4B

2022 Proposal$25.6B


Percent Change+14.3%

The Biden administration is proposing new programs to spur rail trips between cities and promote equity in transportation, part of a budget request it described as a “down payment” on its broad aspirations for transforming the nation’s infrastructure to improve quality of life and address climate change.

It marks a major shift in emphasis from Trump administration proposals to cut discretionary spending and privatize transportation assets.

Key proposed changes

  • Creates a new competitive passenger rail grant program, using $625 million to promote passenger rail as a “low-carbon option for intercity travel.”
  • Increases funding for Amtrak by 35 percent, to $2.7 billion, providing an expansion along the busy Northeast Corridor and nationwide.
  • Raises funding in a major transit grant program by 23 percent, to $2.5 billion, and more than doubles — to $250 million — a separate effort to increase purchases of buses with zero or low emissions.

2021 Enacted$13.5B

2022 Proposal$14.9B


Percent Change+10.6%

The increase in Treasury’s budget would seek to allow the Internal Revenue Service to increase audits of tax returns for wealthier Americans and corporations and boost enforcement. Additional money would also be used to expand customer service, both over the phone and in person.

It would also seek to greatly increase funding for Community Development Financial Institutions, which aim to help develop affordable housing and neighborhood reinvestment programs.

2021 Enacted$104.6B

2022 Proposal$113.1B


Percent Change+8.2%

The Department of Veterans Affairs would continue to receive spending increases the agency received during the Trump administration, this time with a major boost that includes new money for suicide prevention, women’s health, assistance to homeless veterans and research on toxic exposures.

Including mandatory spending, the total budget for VA would exceed $250 billion.

Key proposed changes

  • Spending on suicide prevention programs, a priority for both the Biden and Trump administrations, would almost double to more than $540 million and include funding to increase the capacity of a crisis line for veterans.
  • The agency’s research budget would grow by about 12 percent to almost $900 million. The budget request said the new money would “advance the Department’s understanding of the impact of traumatic brain injury and toxic exposure on long-term health outcomes while continuing to prioritize research focused on the needs of disabled veterans.”

Devlin Barrett, Dan Diamond, Darryl Fears, Peter Finn, Dino Grandoni, Tracy Jan, Dan Lamothe, Michael Laris, Laura Meckler, Damian Paletta and Lisa Rein contributed to this report.

Source: WP