Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

GOP Budget Cuts to Non-Defense Discretionary Spending

Apr 8, 2014


GOP Budget Guts Investments Critical to Powering the Economy and Sharpening America's Competitive Edge

Budget Makes Deep, Harmful Cuts to Non-Defense Discretionary Programs

The Republican budget undermines America's global economic competitiveness and harms job creation by gutting non-defense discretionary funding – a budget category covering a broad array of activities and investments that create jobs now and lay the groundwork for future economic growth.

  • The budget cuts non-defense discretionary funding for 2016 by more than 15 percent below the level the President has called for to ensure strong economic growth.
  • The budget cuts non-defense appropriations over 2016-2024 by 24 percent ($1.3 trillion) below the amount needed to maintain 2014 funding levels adjusted for inflation.
  • The budget cuts non-defense appropriations for just the year 2024 by 30 percent below the amount needed to maintain 2014 funding levels adjusted for inflation.

As a share of the economy, this budget reduces spending on these investments and services to a level almost 40 percent lower than at any time in the last 50 years. These cuts are part of austerity program that also cuts important mandatory spending programs. Together, these misguided austerity policies will not just affect vital services; the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that they will mean less economic growth – and thus fewer jobs – in the short term.

If the funding cuts were applied proportionally, they would result in severe service reductions across a broad array of vital investments and services. And if Republicans want to avoid cuts in some of these areas, their budget will simply force larger cuts elsewhere.

Illustrative Effects of a 15-Percent Cut If Applied Today

The Administration has calculated how the Republican budget's 15-percent cut to 2016 non-defense appropriations would affect services if applied on a proportional basis today:

Education, Training, and Early Childhood Development

  • Head Start would serve about 170,000 fewer of the nation's most vulnerable children.
  • Title I , which helps ensure students receive support to succeed academically, would be unable to support the equivalent of roughly 8,000 schools and 3.4 million disadvantaged students, potentially resulting in 29,000 fewer teachers and aides with jobs.
  • Special Education — Schools would lose funding for 21,000 special education teachers.
  • Job Training – More than 3.5 million fewer individuals would receive employment and training services through Department of Labor job training programs.

(continued on reverse)

  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) , which provides critical food assistance and nutrition education to pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children, would assist at least 200,000 fewer postpartum women and children.

Scientific Research

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) could be forced to reduce the number of new grants awarded by about 1,400, slowing research that could lead to new treatments and cures for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes.
  • The National Science Foundation could be forced to issue thousands fewer research awards, affecting tens of thousands of researchers, students, and technicians.

Public Safety

  • 3,300 fewer Customs and Border Protection Officers would be funded, negatively affecting travel and trade at our nation's air, land, and sea ports of entry.
  • Criminal Justice – Over 3,500 fewer federal agents would be funded to combat violent crime, pursue financial crimes, and ensure national security.

Illustrative Examples of Program Cuts Over 2016-2024

The Republican budget's 24 percent cut to non-defense appropriations over the period of 2016-2024, if applied proportionally across programs, would mean:

Early Childhood, K-12 Education, and Higher Education

  • $19 billion cut from early childhood education through 2024 – This cut to Head Start and Early Head Start stands in contrast to the President's 2015 budget, which increases funding and also includes a $76 billion 10-year initiative for universal pre-K services.
  • $89 billion cut from all of K-12 education through 2024, including special education .

o $28 billion cut from Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – Current IDEA funding already provides only about 16 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education, far below the 40 percent "full funding" pledged when Congress passed IDEA in 1975.

o $35 billion cut from Title I — This deep cut would reduce Title I's ability to help students in low-income schools succeed.


  • $55 billion cut from Pell grants – This cut would reduce help for low-income students struggling to afford to go to college. (In addition, the budget eliminates $90 billion in mandatory Pell funding, for total Pell cuts of $145 billion.)