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Administration Memo Confirms Plans for Budget Cuts in Many Domestic Discretionary Programs in 2006

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Last week the Washington Post reported that the White House Office of Management and Budget has sent a memorandum to federal departments and agencies directing most of them to include widespread funding cuts in the fiscal year 2006 budgets that they submit to OMB this summer. The memo directs agency heads to adhere to the funding levels for fiscal year 2006 that are contained in an OMB budget document issued in February, in conjunction with the President’s budget. The budget document, which includes proposed funding levels for every budget account in the government for each year from 2005 through 2009, proposes cuts in nearly every domestic non-entitlement program in the federal budget in 2006 and subsequent years, except for homeland security programs. The new OMB memorandum instructs agency heads that if they wish to request higher funding for any budget account in 2006 than the February OMB budget document includes, they must offset the additional funding with still deeper cuts in other programs in their agencies.

In the past few days, the White House has tried to deny these budget cuts are being planned and to dismiss the significance of both the new OMB memo to agency heads and the February OMB budget document. The White House has claimed that the reduced funding levels for 2006 and subsequent years that are contained in the President’s budget have no meaning, are purely “formulaic,” and are no way an indication that the Administration is seeking these budget cuts.