On March 11, 2019, President Trump delivered his administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget proposal to Congress. Titled “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First,” the document outlines the administration’s federal funding priorities for next fiscal year. The budget release was delayed over one-month due to the partial government shutdown, which shuttered the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which prepares the annual request.

The President’s budget adheres to discretionary spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. Over the next two-years, the budget caps will reduce federal discretionary spending by $225 billion. Without congressional action, in FY 2020 the caps will reduce federal outlays by $126 billion, including $55 billion in cuts to non-defense accounts such as research and education programs, and $71 billion in cuts to defense accounts.

The President’s budget includes spending cuts to areas important to UW–Madison, such as student aid and university research. However, the spending bills will be crafted by Congress, not President Trump.

This document provides an initial high-level summary of some of the agencies and accounts that impact campus. It may be updated as additional materials are released. Please contact our office should you have questions or if you would like additional information. Additionally, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter @UWFedRelations for frequent budget updates.


It is important to remember that the President’s budget request, while an important policy and political marker, is simply a blueprint, or suggestion. Congress has the constitutional authority to write the spending bills that fund the federal government. Both the House and Senate have begun hearings to consider different aspects of the President’s budget. Top administration officials are testifying before Congress and the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will craft the FY 2020 spending bills this summer. Committee consideration of those bills will begin even sooner.



Federal agencies with R&D budgets that exceed $100 million are required to allocate 3.2 percent of their R&D budget to SBIR programs. Federal agencies with SBIR programs include:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation


The National Institutes for Health would receive $34.368 billion in the FY 2020 request. This total includes $492 million in resources available through the 21st Century Cures Act.

Highlights include:

  • $256 million for the new National Institute for Research on Safety and Quality (NIRSQ) to continue key research activities currently administered by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
  • $1.3 billion for opioid and pain research across NIH as part of the government-wide effort to combat the opioid epidemic.
  • $100 million for the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, which prioritizes meritorious applications that request funding for early stage investigators seeking their first award.

The budget notes that “for the past two years, NIH has been prohibited by law from reducing grantee administrative costs and shifting these resources to support direct research on high impact areas, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. The Congress imposed this prohibition, which limits NIH’s ability to maximize its support of direct biomedical research. The Budget proposes to eliminate the current prohibition, which would give NIH the flexibility to support more direct research while encouraging research institutions to improve the efficiency of operations.” An examination of the charts indicates a 14 percent proposed cut to indirect.

In its FY 2018 Budget, the Administration proposed reforming NIH’s indirect cost rate methodology to ensure that taxpayer dollars were focused on high-impact research and not administrative overhead. Congress subsequently prohibited NIH from implementing these reforms and, in fact, prohibited any further study or exploration of indirect cost rate reforms at NIH.

The FY 2020 budget will decrease the direct cost of research by capping the percentage of investigator salary that can be paid with grant funds, and by reducing the limit for salaries paid with NIH grant funds from $189,600 to $154,300. This provision would have a significant impact at UW-Madison.

Another provision states that none of the funds appropriated could be used to pay the salary of an individual, through a grant or other extramural mechanism, at a rate in excess of Executive Level II, except that this section shall not apply to the Head Start program.

National Institutes of Health Budget Documents


The PBR would provide National Science Foundation (NSF) with $7.1 billion, a nearly $1 billion decrease from FY2019 levels. Specifically, the budget proposes $5.662 billion for NSF Research and Related Activities, which is $858 million below the FY2019 level. NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction would receive $223.2 million under the request, which is $72.5 million below current levels. The PBR proposes $823 million for Education and Human Resources, an $87 million decrease from FY2019.

According to the budget justifications, NSF’s $7.1 billion in funding in FY 2020 will support approximately 8,000 new research grants and will:

  • Continue NSF’s commitment to basic research that contributes to human knowledge and provides the scientific understanding necessary to spur innovation across all fields of S&E.
  • Fund NSF investments in the S&E foundations for quantum information science ($106 million).
  • Invest in transformative research in artificial intelligence ($492 million).

NSF Congressional Justification


The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would receive $1.4 billion per the PBR, a $15.6 million reduction from FY2019. The budget request would provide $500 million for the NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), a $100 million increase over the FY2019 enacted level. The budget acknowledges that funding increase are balanced with “eliminating lower priority programs.” Proposed funding for other NIFA Research and Education Activities are listed below:

  • Hatch Act Funds, $243.2 million (FY2019 $259 million)
  • Smith-Lever 3(b)&(c), $299.4 million (FY2019 $315 million)
  • Evans-Allen Program, $53.8 million (FY2019 $58 million)
  • McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry, $28.9 million (FY2019 $36 million)
  • Extension Services at 1890 Institutions, $45.3 million (FY2019 $48.6 million)

The budget request also includes $50 million in a new competitive grant program to “modernize agriculture research facilities at land-grant universities.

USDA Congressional Justification


The administration is requesting $12.2 billion for the Department of Commerce, a $1 billion increase from the 2019 enacted level, largely to boost investment for the 2020 Decennial Census.

The PBR requests $1.2 billion for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  to support the development of satellite systems, including polar weather satellites, space weather instruments, and satellite data collection systems, which are vital to keeping America safe and providing spacebased observations to improve the accuracy and timeliness of weather predictions. The PBR would fund the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) at $309 million. OAR was funded at $525 million in FY2019.

Consistent with previous requests, the administration proposes to eliminate several NOAA grant and education programs, including Sea Grant. In FY2019, Sea Grant (together with the Marine Aquaculture Program) received $80 million.

The budget recommends terminating the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program and proposes to eliminate the Economic Development Administration.

Commerce Budget in Brief


The budget provides $21 billion for NASA, a $500 million, or 2 percent, decrease from FY19. The FY2020 NASA budget includes $6.303 billion for the Science Mission Directorate (SMD), which is a $602 million, or 9 percent decrease from FY2019. The FY2020 budget requests $1.014 million, a $87 million, or 9 percent, increase for the Space Technology Mission Directorate. The budget requests: $1.779 billion for Earth Science; $2.662 billion for Planetary Science; $844.80 million for Astrophysics; and $704.5 million for Heliophysics. The FY2020 budget requests $666.9 million for the Aeronautics Mission Directorate, which is a decrease of $58.1 million from FY2019.

The FY20 budget proposes the elimination of the Office of STEM Engagement, which includes funding the National Space Grant Fellowship. NASA’s Space Grant program received $44 million in FY2019.

NASA Budget Summary


The budget provides $718 billion in base defense funding, which is an increase of $33 billion from FY 2019. The budget provides $2.3 billion for 6.1 basic research, down $200 million from the FY 2019 funding level. Science and Technology (S&T) is funded at $14.1 billion, reflecting a $1.5 billion reduction below FY 2019. 

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) fares well in the budget, receiving $3.56 billion, a $140 million increase from the 2019 enacted level.

Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Documents


The PBR would fund DOE’s Office of Science at $5.5 billion, a more than $1 billion cut from FY2019. The budget directs the office to focus on early-stage research, operate the national laboratories, and continue high priority construction projects. Office of Science program funding highlights include:

  • Basic Energy Sciences would receive $1.858 billion, a $307.7 million cut below FY2019 enacted.
  • The PBR would provide $921 million for Advanced Scientific Computing Research, $14.6 million below current levels.
  • Biological and Environmental Research would be funded at $494 million, a cut of $210.5 million compared to FY2019.
  • The budget proposes $403 million for Fusion Energy Science which is $161 million below FY2019.
  • The administration would fund High Energy Physics is $768 million, $211.9 million less than FY2019.
  • Nuclear Physics would be funded at $625 million, which is $65 million below FY2019.

DOE Budget Justification


The FY 2020 budget request is $611.7 million.

The Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) is eliminated in the president’s budget request.

National Institute of Standards and Technologies Budget Documents


The budget requests $4.5 billion for NOAA. The budget prioritizes reducing the impacts of extreme weather and water events to save lives and protect property by implementing the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act, maximizing the economic contributions of ocean and coastal resources, and advancing space innovation.

Once again, the budget seeks to eliminate the National Sea Grant College Program.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Budget Documents (not yet released)



The USGS budget has been roughly flat for over 15 years (hovering around $1 billion) and the administration proposed $859.7 million in FY 2019, which is a reduction of $218 million, or 20 percent from FY 2017 levels.

Cooperative Research Units and U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Research Institutes would be eliminated.

United States Geological Survey Budget Documents


The budget requests $6.1 billion for the EPA, a $2.8 billion, or 31 percent, decrease from the 2019 enacted level. The budget request would also cut significantly the EPA Science and Technology account, with a request of $463 million. The current level is $713.8 million. This would hurt the EPA’s ability to continue R&D activities in support of core mission areas, focusing on air quality, water resources, sustainable communities, chemical safety, and human health risk assessment.

Environmental Protection Agency Budget Documents


The budget proposal would eliminate the NEH and provide $38 million to close the agency. This amount represents the salaries and expenses required to shut down the agency and the amount required to honor pre-existing grant commitments (specifically, matching funds).

National Endowment for the Humanities Budget Statement


The budget proposal would eliminate the NEA and provide $29 million for the expenses necessary to carry out the closure of the NEA and will remain available until expended.


The administration is requesting $64 billion for the Department of Education, a $7.1 billion cut from the 2019 enacted level. The 2019 budget eliminates, consolidates, or reduces funding for a number of discretionary education programs. Higher education programs proposed for elimination include:

  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG)
  • International Education and Foreign Language Studies (Title VI)
  • Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants
  • Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN)
  • Subsidized Stafford loans
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

In addition, the budget would significantly modify several other programs. Specifically, it would:

  • Consolidate the Gaining Early Awareness Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) into a $950 million revised TRIO state block grant program;
  • Provide $500 million, a $630 million decrease, to reform the Federal Work Study (FWS) program to “support workforce and career-oriented training opportunities for low-income undergraduates;”
  • Consolidate five income-driven repayment (IDR) plans into a single plan, which would cap a borrower’s monthly payment at 12.5 percent of discretionary income and allow for forgiveness after 15 years of repayment for undergraduate student debt and 30 years for graduate students.

Pell Grants

The budget level funds Pell at $22.5 billion in discretionary funding and maintains the maximum award of $6,195. It also expands Pell recipients’ eligibility to include “high quality, short-term programs that provide students with a credential, certification, or license in an in-demand field.”

Other programs:

  • Institute of Education Sciences (IES): Requests $521.6 million, a $94 million cut from 2019 enacted amount, for IES – the research and statistics arm of the Department of Education.
  • TEACH Grants: Requests $29.9 million, a $3.1 million cut from the 2019 enacted level for TEACH Grants. The TEACH Grant program awards annual grants of up to $4,000 to students who agree to serve as full-time teachers in mathematics, science, foreign language, bilingual education, special education or reading at a high-need high school for at least four years.
  • Office for Civil Rights (OCR): Requests $125 million, consistent the 2019 level, for OCR. The requested funds would ensure essential program support to resolve complaints of discrimination and ensure that institutions receiving federal student aid are in compliance with civil rights laws.
  • The Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program would see receive $15.1 million in funding under the budget request.

Department of Education Budget Documents

The PBR also includes funding for several initiatives of note including:

Quantum Computing: Requests $168 million for Office of Science to understand how quantum systems behave and to address scientific challenges beyond the capabilities of classical computers.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Requests $119 million, including $71 million for Office of Science and $48 million for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), to improve the robustness, reliability, and transparency of Big Data and AI technologies, as well as quantification and development of software tools for DOE mission applications.

Exascale computing: Requests $809 million, including $500 million for Office of Science and $309 million for the NNSA, which will enable the deployment of an Exascale computer system in calendar year 2021.

Other: The administration is requesting $25 million for next-generation microelectronics and $20 million for genomic sciences for Office of Science.

For the third year in a row, the administration’s FY2020 budget proposes elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy (ARPA-E) program, citing the opportunity to “integrate the positive aspects of ARPA-E into DOE’s applied energy research programs.” ARPA-E was funded at $400 million in FY2019.