Federal Budget Dynamics: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

The word from Washington this President’s Day weekend is that the Trump Administration has set an aggressive course on re-working the federal budget. With Mick Mulvaney sworn in as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, federal agencies are getting direction from the White House to plan for deep cuts and fast action in 2017.

Many domestic spending defenders have an anxious eye on the Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Balance that includes, among many other dramatic changes, elimination of funding for the CDFI Fund. Mulvaney is a budget hawk and has indicated support for the Heritage Blueprint. At many agencies, apparently including The CDFI Fund, managers got word late last week to start planning to make their case to keep their funding… or part of it.

CDFI advocates (and many others) had been counting on reports that the Trump Administration would seek a long-term Continuing Resolution that would maintain current funding levels through the fiscal year, which ends September 30th. That would give them time to build their cases. The current Continuing Resolution runs out in April.

Instead, the Trump Administration and Republican Congressional leaders reportedly are preparing for a short-term Continuing Resolution followed by a full-throated Trump-Mulvaney budget before summer. That seems to fit the Trump Administration’s aggressive governing philosophy

The next level of defense for CDFI Fund advocates and supporters of other programs in the Heritage Foundation crosshairs would be the tendency of legislative processes and DC politics to slow down forward motion. So far the Trump Administration has shown little evidence that it is prepared to work the system.

A general slowdown might produce the best results for the CDFI Fund and other community and economic development programs. In this time with this President and the current state of politics, however, that is a dicey strategy.

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