CHN: President Biden’s FY24 Budget Invests in Critical Human Needs Programs  

The Biden Administration released its Fiscal Year 2024 budget request on Thursday, March 9. Highlights from select agency budgets are found in the articles that follow.  

Of the $6.9 trillion in projected FY24 spending included in the President’s request, $1.7 trillion is spending that must be annually appropriated by Congress, also known as discretionary spending; this is roughly 5 percent over FY23 levels. Of this, roughly $688 billion is for base nondefense (domestic and international) discretionary (NDD) funding. Most education and housing programs fall into this category, plus many social service, public health, criminal justice, homeland security, environmental and community development programs. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the budget would increase overall funding for NDD programs (outside of veterans’ health care, which is growing at a greater rate) by about 7.3 percent compared to FY23 funding levels. The President’s budget also includes $121 billion in discretionary spending for Veterans Affairs Medical Care, and roughly $37 billion for emergency and disaster discretionary funding. 

The budget also calls for $886.4 billion in defense discretionary funding, a roughly 3.3 percent ($28 billion) increase over FY23. While advocates praised the expansion of funding for human needs programs, many progressives have called for cuts to the defense budget. Republicans are expected to push for higher amounts for defense.   

The Biden Administration budget includes more than $4 trillion in mandatory spending for FY23. Mandatory spending programs, including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, SNAP/food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and other basic safety net programs, do not require annual appropriations. Instead, Congress authorizes the way they spend money through legislation. Congress can cut or expand these programs by amending the legislation that authorizes them. The Biden Administration proposes to shift some programs from discretionary to mandatory, so that they would not require annual appropriations. Examples include the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Congress has not in the past agreed to such proposals. 

Advocates applauded many proposals in the budget, including one that would restore the full Child Tax Credit enacted in the American Rescue Plan, which drastically cut child poverty in 2021, but was allowed to expire. The budget would again expand the credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for children six years old and above, and to $3,600 per child for children under six; this extension would remain in effect through 2025. In addition, the budget would permanently reform the credit to make it fully refundable, so that it would no longer exclude children in the lowest-income families, and allow families to receive monthly advance payments. The budget would also permanently provide the Earned Income Tax Credit expansion for workers without minor children at home. 

The President’s proposal also includes funding and policies to reduce the cost of child care and prescription drugs, increase the supply of affordable housing, provide free preschool and community college to students, and provide paid family leave and sick days to workers. It would sustain Medicare for another quarter-century by increased contributions from those with incomes over $400,000; provide benefits comparable to Medicaid to ensure access to health coverage for millions of low-income people in the 11 states that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs; and expand access to Home and Community Based Services through the Medicaid program.  

On the revenue side, the Biden budget proposes a 25 percent minimum income tax on billionaires, quadruples a 1 percent surcharge on corporate stock buybacks, taxes investment income at the same rate as income from work, and raises the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, up from 21 percent. In total, the proposal would raise revenue by $4.7 trillion over a decade and reduce the federal deficit by nearly $3 trillion over 10 years. 

In a statement, CHN’s Executive Director Deborah Weinstein said President Biden’s budget, “makes right and responsible choices: less poverty, more jobs, investments that help workers, families, and children, and more economic security for older Americans. It translates moral clarity about the need for shared prosperity into dollars and cents.” 

While the President’s budget does not as a whole move through Congress or become law, it is a proposal to Congress used to signal an administration’s priorities. House Republicans called President Biden’s budget “out of control spending” and have said they want to cut FY24 discretionary spending down to FY22 levels. If House Republicans were to exempt veterans’ medical care, the average cut to other NDD programs would be 11 percent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, with cuts over 20 percent if the defense budget were also exempt from FY22 levels.   

House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees have already started holding hearings on various aspects of the President’s budget request. House Republicans may release their FY24 budget proposal as early as mid-April following their spring recess (with some reports that it could be delayed until May); more information on that will follow when it is released.  

Given the divided control of the House and Senate and slim majorities in both chambers, it is unlikely that Congress will pass a joint budget resolution this year. Congressional budget resolutions are spending plans that include totals for annual appropriations, setting parameters for the work of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. However, it is not necessary for Congress to pass a budget resolution in order to agree upon funding for annual appropriations. Given that bipartisan support (at least 60 votes) is needed to pass spending bills in the Senate, advocates anticipate many spending battles in the months to come.  

For more information on President Biden’s FY24 budget, including official White House budget documents, CHN materials, action alerts, and statements and analysis from CHN members and partners, see CHN’s FY 2024 Budget Resource Library. Stay tuned to upcoming Human Needs Reports for additional analysis as the FY24 federal budget and appropriations process moves forward.