President Joe Biden’s $1.52 trillion spending plan for the next fiscal year provides the most detailed picture yet of his priorities as he draws an ever sharper contrast to his predecessor.
Overall, Biden is calling for an increase in regular non-emergency funding from $1.4 trillion to $1.52 trillion in fiscal 2022, an 8 percent increase. Most of the increase would be dedicated to domestic social programs, with a 16 percent increase compared to defense spending, which would rise 2 percent.
Biden’s budget will face a tough road in a Congress with narrow Democratic majorities. Unlike the partisan route Democrats used for his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, regular appropriations would need 60 votes to overcome a Senate filibuster.
Here are some key takeaways.
Biden wants $1.2 billion in climate aid for poor nations
Biden asked to resume spending on the United Nations Green Climate Fund, which aims to help developing nations shift to clean energy and deal with the impacts of climate change. The request comes as Biden seeks to prove the U.S. has returned as a global leader in the fight against climate change.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord and dismantled domestic policies key to achieving the country’s promised emissions cuts. And under Trump, the U.S. also reneged on its earlier 2015 commitment to dole out $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund by 2020. Former President Barack Obama delivered just two down payments of $500 million each to the fund, but Trump halted the support after he took office.
Domestic climate programs would also see boost
Biden is asking Congress to spend $14 billion more on climate programs across the U.S. government, with some $10 billion targeted to clean energy innovation. Much of the funding would go to Energy Department initiatives, including the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate, with support for high-risk ventures that offer the potential for sweeping changes in the way electricity is generated and used.
Some $6.9 billion — a $1.4 billion increase — would also be directed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, enabling greater work on climate observations and forecasting.
Biden is also seeking funding to help the functions of government transition to lower-emission energy sources. For instance, he is seeking $600 million to buy electric vehicles and equipment for federal agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service, which is in the process of turning over its fleet. Another $800 million would go toward making public and assisted housing more energy efficient.
The plan also envisions a $550 million program to reclaim abandoned mines and remediate old oil and gas wells as part of an initiative to aid workers whose fossil fuel jobs are jeopardized by the country’s turn to renewable energy.
Biden is also seeking an $11.2 billion cash infusion for the Environmental Protection Agency, which was weaned of both money and workers under Trump. If enacted by Congress, Biden’s funding plan would amount to a $2 billion — or 21.3 percent — increase from the EPA’s current budget.
Money for Central America aims to alleviate border crisis
Biden is also asking Congress for more than $2 billion next year to solve problems related to immigration, which has become a political vulnerability for the president early in his term.
The request includes $861 million to address economic deprivation and corruption in Central America, which are some of the forces driving people to leave their countries. The funding is part of a $4 billion, four-year plan aimed at the root causes of migration in Biden’s legislative proposal on immigration. That bill faces long odds of passage in Congress.
Biden also proposes $345 million for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to speed up processing of naturalization and asylum cases. Many people who apply for permanent legal residence and asylum often wait years to have their cases decided, and the backlog is one of the reasons people try to cross illegally into the U.S. The budget request also seeks to increase the funding of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review by 21 percent to $891 million to hire 100 more immigration judges and support staff to reduce court backlogs.
Tax cheats targeted with more resources for IRS audits
Biden is seeking an additional $900 million for Internal Revenue Service audits alone, as part of a 10.4 percent increase in the agency’s budget.
Biden has said he plans to use that money to train high-skilled tax agents to enforce the tax laws for corporations and wealthy taxpayers, who according to multiple academic and Inspector General reports, aren’t paying all they owe to the IRS. One recent study found that collecting all the unpaid income taxes from the richest 1 percent of taxpayers could bring in an additional $175 billion a year.
Aid sought to boost U.S. computer chip manufacturing
Biden is seeking $442 million for the National Institute of Standard and Technology’s manufacturing programs — including $150 million for two new Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, one of which aims to restore the U.S. as a global leader in design and manufacture of semiconductors. Biden also is asking for $275 million to make America’s small and medium manufacturers more competitive and strengthen domestic supply chains.
The proposal also requests $916 million to expand scientific and technology research at the institute to spur advances in things like climate-resilient building codes, computing, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
Billions to spur the ‘second great rail revolution’
Biden is seeking a 35 percent increase in funding for Amtrak to improve and expand service along the busy Northeast corridor, which is plagued by maintenance and capacity issues, and across the wider network. Biden’s $2.7 billion request for Amtrak runs counter to the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to cut funds to the rail network.
The budget also proposes a new $625 million competitive grant program for passenger rail, backing up Biden’s campaign promise to spark the “second great railroad revolution.” His infrastructure proposal also furthers that pledge with a separate $80 billion proposed for rail.
In another attempt to support low-emissions transportation, the budget requests $2.5 billion for a transit-grant program, a 23 percent increase. The administration wants to double the funds for low- and no-emission buses, proposing $250 million for transit agencies to purchase them.