Trade assistance winnowed
The proposed budget slashes discretionary funding for the Commerce Department, which monitors the weather, collects economic data, promotes exports, issues patents and other duties, by more than 37 percent, the largest single cut to any agency. More than half of that decrease, though, was a reflection of decreased spending on the 2020 census, which will not be repeated next year.
The budget also pares money for the trade adjustment assistance program, which is run through the Labor Department. The program offers training and support to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of outsourcing, but it has faced criticism that it may actually end up making its recipients worse off, by temporarily taking them out of the work force for training. The Trump administration has proposed refocusing the program more on apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
The cuts to the Commerce Department budget also include various reductions to economic development programs, which the administration says are duplicated elsewhere.
The budget requests additional funding for investments in areas considered crucial for American competitiveness, particularly advanced technology, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced manufacturing and 5G telecom networks.
The White House has proposed allowing the Commerce Department to auction off more telecom spectrum to private companies, one of the main bottlenecks in the country’s effort to advance 5G. The change would give private companies more access to a scarce resource and generate $670 million over the next 10 years, the administration said.
— Ana Swanson
Crackdown on illegal immigration gets a big boost
Mr. Trump’s budget requests $2 billion to build 82 miles of border wall along the border with Mexico, as the Homeland Security Department rushes to complete 450 miles of barriers by 2021. The administration has completed nearly 120 miles thus far, almost all of it on federal land and in areas where there were sections of dilapidated wall or vehicle barriers.
The $2 billion is significantly less than the $5 billion in wall funding that Mr. Trump sought a year ago, which resulted in a five-week government shutdown. While Congress has previously agreed to provide only $1.375 billion for wall construction, Mr. Trump has found a way to secure money for his wall without congressional approval by shifting billions of dollars from military construction projects and programs used to crack down on narcotics activity.