President Trump’s Budget Request Cuts Key OEHS Programs

Those expecting cuts in President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request to Congress were not disappointed when the 1,000+ page leviathan was unleashed in late May. Here’s a summary of his proposed funding levels for some of the agencies and programs most important to AIHA:

​​ Trump FY 2018 Request (in millions)​ FY 2017 Appropriated (in millions)​ Percent Change Dollar Change
OSHA​ $546​ ​$554 ​-1.4 ​($8.0)
​Susan Harwood Training Grants ​$0 ​$11 ​-100.0 ​($11.0)
​NIOSH ​$200 ​$338 ​-40.8 ​​($138)
​ERCs ​$0 ​$28 ​-100.0 ($28)
Ag Centers​ ​$0 ​$26 ​-100.0 ​($26)
  
In addition to those listed, the President is seeking to eliminate the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), arguing that its activities unnecessarily duplicate the work carried out by other agencies. Notably, as an independent government entity, the CSB submits its own budget request to Congress that is separate from the President’s. In their budget request, not surprisingly, they do not recommend their own elimination, and instead request $11.6 million – an increase of $629,000, which would be 5.7% above what they received in the current fiscal year.

The claim of duplication (and implied waste) is a refrain heard throughout the President’s budget proposal, popping up in his justification for eliminating NIOSH’s Education and Research Centers (ERCs), and their Agricultural Research Centers Program. A similar argument is made for eliminating OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grants Program. Despite having trained more than 2 million workers since the late 1970s, the President’s budget states that “OSHA has no evidence that the program is effective, and measures the program’s performance in terms of the number of individuals trained.” This statement appears to be in fairly direct conflict with information currently on the homepage of OSHA’s website for the program. Nevertheless, the President additionally suggests that in the absence of funding for this program the private sector would provide the same type of training.

In practical terms, the effect of the President’s budget request is to frame the discussion for negotiations on Capitol Hill. While it is unlikely that the ERCs, Ag Centers, and CSB will be eliminated given their historic bipartisan support, it is fairly likely that funding for the programs will be cut. The magnitude of these cuts and the inclusion of any restrictions regarding how funds may be used (commonly called “policy riders”) will be where the most heated negotiations occur.

Speaking of policy riders, at this point, the President does not appear to be openly advocating for halting implementation of OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica dust rule, and OSHA’s more in-depth budget request even includes funds for the rule. While this is positive, it is also superficial, as the President is expected to strongly support congressional attempts to halt implementation of the silica dust rule through the appropriations process.

AIHA is actively working with Members of Congress and our allies in other associations to advance programs that help protect worker health and safety. You can help too by contacting Mark Ames (mames@aiha.org) and visiting
AIHA’s Federal Legislative Action Center.