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Biden administration wants $1.5 trillion in 2022 discretionary spending

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The Biden administration on Friday sent Congress its first budget request for the 2022 fiscal year, outlining a set of priorities including funding for medical research, education, housing, civil rights, combating gun violence, tackling climate change and more. The administration is seeking $1.5 trillion in discretionary funding.

The request is an effort to inform lawmakers as they begin the process of appropriating taxpayer dollars for the next fiscal year. Administration officials said they are aiming to release their full budget in late spring. 

Included in the so-called “skinny budget” proposal is a request for $769 billion in non-defense funding. This marks a 16% increase over the 2021 fiscal year spending, as the administration moves to return spending to what it called the historical average over the last 30 years and boost spending on public services and benefits they said had been underfunded. The proposal also includes $753 billion for national defense programs, a 1.7% increase from the 2021 budget.

“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,” OMB Acting Director Shalanda Young wrote in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees. 

Included in the request’s 38-page summary is $8.7 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the largest budget increase for the agency in nearly two decades as the United States continues to dig out from the coronavirus pandemic. The administration says the additional funding is needed to support core public health improvements, modernize data collections, train new public health experts and better prepare for and respond to emerging threats. The president also wants to increase spending to combat climate change by $14 billion across agencies. 

As schools struggle to reopen, the administration is also seeking a $20 billion increase in funding for high-poverty schools, bringing the total for Title 1 grants to $36.5 billion, and to expand access to early childhood education with $7.4 billion in Child Care Development Block Grants and $11.9 billion for Head Start, a combined increase of $2.7 billion over 2021.

The proposal also includes more than $2.1 billion for the Department of Justice to combat gun violence, an increase of more than $230 million from the previous budget. This comes one day after the president announced new executive action to curb gun violence. The money would support existing programs to improve the background checks system, create new programs and establish voluntary gun buyback pilot programs.

The administration also requested $209 billion for civil rights enforcement and other Justice Department programs, a $33 million increase over the 2021 fiscal year. Funds would be included to support police reform, prosecute hate crimes and enforce voting rights, among other things. 

While the majority of the funding request focuses on non-defense spending, the president is also requesting an increase in discretionary defense spending. According to administration officials, a large part of that increase is for a pay raise for men and women in uniform and civilians employees. 

This comes as the president last week unveiled his more than $2 trillion infrastructure proposal called the American Jobs Plan. Administration officials said Friday the $1.5 trillion discretionary budget request should be seen as separate from the infrastructure plan but called the proposals complementary. When the administration releases its full budget later this spring, officials said they will show how the different pieces of their agenda come together in a full plan.

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