Yesterday, President Trump released his so-called “skinny budget” for fiscal year 2018, establishing a framework for a more detailed budget to be released in May. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence strongly opposes any budget resolution or appropriations bill based on this budget blueprint.
Although the President’s budget is short on details, it raises the spectre for many potential harms if enacted. It slashes funding for many programs on which victims and survivors rely for safety and security in order to fund a $54 million increase in military spending.
At its very core, this budget is unlawful. According to the Budget Control Act of 2011, in order to decrease military spending, any increase in defense discretionary spending must be accompanied by a corresponding increase in non-defense discretionary spending. By steeply cutting non-defense spending in order to increase military spending, the skinny budget violates this statute.
If enacted, the cuts in non-defense discretionary spending would greatly harm the safety and security of victims and survivors of gender-based violence in a variety of ways. The massive cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) jeopardize programs that are vital to the physical and economic security of victims and survivors. The 16.2% cut to HHS and the 13.2% cut to HUD slash funding for and, in some instances completely eliminates, programs on which victims leaving abusive relationships rely such as housing assistance, home energy assistance, and WIC.
The “skinny budget” also cuts the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) budget by 4% while also shifting funds to prioritize immigration enforcement activities. It completely eliminates the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal assistance to low income individuals, including countless victims and survivors. The blueprint does not address the VOCA disbursement.
Because the budget blueprint is so vague, we do not know if they will cut all programs across-the-board or if they will target individual programs, including programs of vital importance to victims and survivors such as VAWA and FVPSA. Regardless of whether President Trump’s full budget specifically targets VAWA and/or FVPSA, the framework he released today would, if enacted by Congress, be detrimental to victims and survivors. NCADV and our allies call upon Congress to reject the President’s budget and consider the needs of victims, survivors and other vulnerable populations during the appropriations process.
ACT NOW! This budget blueprint reflects only the President’s priorities - it is not law. Congress has the power of the purse, and they are ultimately responsible for funding federal programs. Over the next several weeks, Members of Congress will be circulating ‘Dear Colleague’ letters, supporting funding for a variety of programs, including VOCA, VAWA and FVPSA. We will be asking you for your help in the coming days to urge your Members of Congress to sign onto these letters.