The U.S. Senate is slogging through the nomination process of Cabinet-level presidential appointments. Several positions remain unfilled and one position – the Director of the White House Office of Management of Budget (OMB) – is of particular importance to the Children’s Budget Coalition, which is made up of over 50 children focused organizations that strongly support robust funding for programs that impact children’s development and well-being, particularly in the areas of health, education, nutrition, housing and welfare.
The OMB Director is charged with provide funding recommendations to Congress on over 200 different programs that impact children. Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC-05) was nominated by President Trump in December 2016 to serve as OMB Director. He recently appeared before both the U.S. Senate Budget Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee – the two committees that vote on whether his nomination should be brought to the Senate floor for approval.
During these hearings, members of the both panels had the opportunity to ask Mr. Mulvaney a number of questions about his priorities. The Children’s Budget Coalition applauds Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) who took this opportunity to elevate the importance of robustly funding children’s programs by asking him, in writing, the following question:
“In 2011, President Obama and Congress forged an agreement in the Budget Control Act that set spending caps for defense and non-defense discretionary spending through Fiscal Year 2021. These caps on discretionary programs were designed to reduce federal discretionary funding by more than $1 trillion over the ten years from 2012 through 2021. In general, there has been bipartisan agreement on the concept of “parity” between the defense and non-defense caps.
Throughout the course of the campaign, President Trump indicated that he wanted to increase defense spending, which would necessitate raising the cap imposed by the Budget Control Act. However, if the overall spending caps are not raised, to raise defense spending would mean reductions in spending on non-defense discretionary programs. This would mean less money for important programs that help children like Head Start, services for trafficking victims, Emergency Medical Services for Children, and Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant.
According to the 2016 Children’s Budget developed by First Focus, the share of total federal spending on children decreased 5.1 percent from 8.25 percent in 2014 to 7.83 percent in 2016. If the non-defense portion of federal discretionary spending is cut to pay for increased defense spending, this would jeopardize federal funding for children even more. If confirmed as Director of OMB, would you advocate that parity be maintained between defense and non-defense spending, or would you propose that non-defense discretionary outlays – like spending on important children’s programs like those mentioned above – be cut to pay for a large increase in defense spending?”
Shortly after submitting the question, Rep. Mulvaney provided the following written response:
“If I am confirmed as Director of OMB, I will look at all discretionary spending, both defense and non-defense, while preparing the FY 2018 Budget. I have not yet been engaged in the Administration’s ongoing budget development process, and I would need to discuss any recommendations with the President before supporting any specific changes.”
While we understand Mr. Mulvaney has yet to be confirmed, we are disappointed that he did share his opinion on whether there should be parity between defense and non-defense spending. We echo Senator Wyden’s comments that non-defense cuts can result in fewer children accessing critical programs which can harm their futures in both the short and long-term.
The Children’s Budget Coalition is committed to ensuring that robust federal investment in the critical programs that nurture children is a top priority for our nation’s leaders. We again thank Senator Wyden for prioritizing children and look forward to working with him and other elected officials in the 115th Congress to ensure all of our nation’s children have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.