Biden Sends Congress $1.5 Trillion Budget Wishlist

The discretionary funding request indicates the president’s priorities, including bulking up the nation’s public health infrastructure, eliminating education disparities and planning for climate change.

FILE – In this April 8, 2021, file photo President Joe Biden speaks about gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. Biden released a $1.5 trillion wish list for the federal budget on Friday, asking for an 8.4% increase in agency operating budgets with substantial gains for Democratic priorities like education, health care, housing and environmental protection. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (CN) —  President Joe Biden sent his 2022 federal budget request to Congress on Friday, asking legislators for money to help him prioritize low-income schools, public health programs and climate change-fighting ventures.

The 58-page document issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget requests $769 billion for non-defense programs for the upcoming fiscal year, and $753 billion for defense programs. Acting director of the office, Shalanda Young wrote in an accompanying letter to the House and Senate Appropriations and Budget committees Friday that the funding will help address the challenges the country has seen since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020.

“This moment of crisis is also a moment of possibility,” Young wrote to lawmakers. “The upcoming appropriations process is another important opportunity to continue laying a stronger foundation for the future and reversing a legacy of chronic disinvestment in crucial priorities. Together, America has a chance not simply to go back to the way things were before the Covid-19 pandemic and economic downturn struck, but to begin building a better, stronger, more secure, more inclusive America.”

The request involves only discretionary spending — government spending implemented through an appropriations bill — which accounts for a third of the federal budget. This request is also separate from Biden’s $2 trillion-plus infrastructure and jobs plan announced last week

According to the request, the Biden administration wants to see all major federal departments receive at least incremental budget hikes — and hopes the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services will receive some of the largest bumps.

Biden’s request proposes upping Education’s budget by 40.8% to $102.8 billion, $36.5 billion of which the administration says would provide grants for high-poverty schools — a more than $20 billion from the allotted sum for grants in the last fiscal year.

“This funding, the single largest year-over-year increase since the inception of the Title I program, will address longstanding funding disparities between under-resourced school districts and their wealthier counterparts, providing critical new support to both students and teachers,” ” the Biden administration said in a statement Friday,

The president also proposed increasing the budget of the Department of Health Human Services by 23.1% to $133.7 billion, saying $8.7 billion of the funds would be sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC could use the money to “modernize public health data collection nationwide, train new epidemiologists and other public health experts, and build international capacity to detect, prepare for, and respond to emerging global threats,” the White House said.

Additionally, Biden asked for $10.7 billion to fight the nation’s opioid crisis, which his administration says has been made worse by the pandemic, as well as $14 billion more collectively across government agencies to address climate change.

This money will allow the United States to take a “whole-of-government approach” to tackling climate change, the administration said. In doing so, it hopes “to secure environmental justice for communities that have been left behind through the largest direct investment in environmental justice in history; and help developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.” 

Biden also proposed a 15.1% jump in funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to $68.7 billion, much of which would be used to pay for vouchers for roughly 200,000 families struggling with housing insecurity. 

The Biden administration also asked for $861 million to invest in Central America, as it has long said it would do. The money would be used to mitigate factors like gang violence and corruption that push people to migrate to the United States. 

“The request also proposes $345 million for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to adjudicate naturalization and asylum cases of those who have been waiting for years. And it increases the budget of the Executive Office for Immigration Review by 21% to $891 million to reduce court backlogs through 100 new immigration judges and support teams,” the White House said in its statement.

Biden’s budget request also asks for $2.1 billion for the Justice Department to address the highly politicized issue of gun violence within the U.S. — $232 million more than the department received last year.

Congress will work off of this request to decide how much to allocate to federal agencies in fiscal year 2022, which starts at the beginning of October. Next week, Biden administration cabinet members like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra are all scheduled to appear before House appropriators to defend the proposal.

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