Although the Trump administration is still in its infancy, the gears are already turning rapidly to defund, severely limit, or privatize — and ultimately incapacitate — significant parts of the US government as it currently functions. The first reports of “dramatic cuts” came before the inauguration, suggesting that the Trump team was taking their cue from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Trump’s team is proposing very significant cuts or full elimination of organizations and programs that have been a mainstay of recent American government and culture. Ostensibly, this is being done to cut down on government spending, although some of these decisions seem like they may end up financially benefiting members of the Trump team as private individuals, and others won’t have much impact on government spending at all but will seriously impact the actual function of government. Right now these cuts are only proposed, but of course soon the administration will have the power to execute them. Here we’ll try to document these cuts, program eliminations and profiteering scams to the extent we’re able, and update as these stories continue to develop.
For the sake of clarity, an asterisk* denotes proposed cuts; a lack of asterisk indicates that the cut has been put into place.
Federal Funding for Sanctuary Cities
Trump followed through on his promise to cut federal funding to cities that defy his order and remain “sanctuary cities,” refusing to assist the federal government in identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants. The denial of federal funding’s only exemption is for grants to law enforcement, which means that the programs now without federal funding include “healthcare, housing, infrastructure, [and] disaster preparedness.” East Bay Express notes that in Oakland, the programs affected include Head Start, lead safety, homeless shelters, and housing for low-income seniors. San Francisco is suing in response.
EPA’s Staff and Budget*
Myron Ebell, former head of Trump’s transition team at the EPA, said that “Trump is likely to seek significant reductions to the agency’s workforce — currently about 15,000 employees nationwide.” Confusingly, EPA staffers also received an internal memo that was linked to Motherboard that seems to guardedly tell employees not to believe this news, leaving it unclear what the real plan is.
An internal memo—first leaked to Motherboard by an EPA employee and later confirmed by the agency—sent to EPA staff by a senior White House advisor today indicates that Ebell’s claims are causing unrest within the agency. The memo doesn’t mention Ebell by name or say that the agency won’t see major staff cuts, but notes that much of what’s being reported in the news is not accurate, and that “no final decisions have been made with regard to the EPA.”
A Lot of Federal Regulations
A new executive order requires that government agencies “revoke two regulations for every new rule they want to issue.” This is on top of the regulatory freeze that Trump’s team has already put in place on new regulations, which requires that any new regulations that were already in the works when Trump came into office have their effective dates postponed by 60 days. Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch was quoted as saying, “There’s a lack of understanding of what rules do to keep our environment safe and protect our financial system.” One effect of the freeze may be that an important mortgage disclosure rule, TRID, may not be decided upon, leaving parts of the housing industry in limbo.
Significant Amount of Funding for Air Travel*
The Heritage Foundation blueprint “calls for stopping all federal grants to airports and eliminating “wasteful subsidies” to the Essential Air Service program that serves rural areas.”
CDC’s Summit on Climate Change
Abruptly canceled after the inauguration, although it has since been put back on the table personally by Al Gore.
News of a revived conference comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly canceled its long-planned Climate and Health Summit in the lead-up to the change in White House administrations. Benjamin called the move a “strategic retreat” given the climate skepticism of the incoming administration.
Emails sent to participants and scheduled speakers did not explain the reason behind CDC’s decision. Nor did the agency offer an explanation in response to a request for comment from The Washington Post, saying only that it was exploring the possibility of holding the event later in the year.
National Public Lands*
It’s to be given away out of the government’s possession, so it will no longer be public land or federally owned, and made salable to private entities — many areas may be profitable for mining, fracking, oil extraction and more. As it stands, national public lands are the US’s second-largest source of income after taxes.
Department of Commerce*
Department of Energy*
Department of Transportation*
Department of Justice*
“Significant cuts and program eliminations.” Cuts are rumored to include the Office on Violence Against Women grant program, which provides funding to support victims of sexual assault and more, and the Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit which helps provide civic aid to low-income Americans.