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Impact of the Trump Administration’s Budget on Federal OSH Programs

05/25/2017
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By Dave Heidorn, J.D., ASSE Director of Public Affairs & Communication

The Trump Administration sent its budget for FY 2018 to Congress. From funding levels provided in the 2017 continuing resolution (CR), OSHA would receive a surprisingly small cut; MSHA remains about the same; NIOSH's budget is cut by 40% and the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) is given enough funds to close its doors. View the administration’s summary explanation of its budget on the White House budget page.

News reports repeat several legislators claiming the budget is DOA. Despite that political messaging, this is still a foundation for what happens next, and parts of which can survive the process, especially especially regarding an issue that some in Congress might view as a lesser important concern. 

Whether you agree with this proposal or not, you have many opportunities to share your thoughts with your senators and representative. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is scheduled to testify on the budget on June 7 (House) and June 8 (Senate). Both the Senate and the House will come up with their own budgets, then go to conference to agree on a final, which then goes to President Trump. Sixty votes are needed in the Senate. And, since some Republicans appear to find it difficult to vote for any budget, Democratic support will be needed in both the Senate and the House. The process has begun, but it’s anything but over.

The Numbers

Budget-Blog

NIOSH

Notes to the budget state:

“The budget prioritizes funding for key areas where CDC can have the greatest impact, including continuing the fight against opioid abuse, misuse and overdose; supporting efforts to combat childhood obesity; [and] protecting national security through medical countermeasure stockpiling.”

With fewer than 5,000 countable fatalities in workplaces and positioned in the CDC facing risks that can affect millions, NIOSH logically faces an uphill battle in demonstrating that its programs improve the overall well-being of the American people. Flat for many years, NIOSH’s budget would be cut 40% under this proposal, which likely includes funding for the Education and Research Centers (ERCs), and the NORA Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing research program that have been the target of elimination for several years.

The notes continue, “NIOSH will conduct research to reduce worker illness and injury, and to advance worker well-being, but will not continue to fund state and academic partners for conducting, translating or evaluating research.” However, the World Trade Center Health Program administered by NIOSH would receive an increase.

ASSE has fought for a fully funded and functional NIOSH over the years, even with concerns that ERC funding overlooks the need for safety education and research and that NIOSH research needs to better address the needs of the safety profession.

OSHA

Given the administration’s repeatedly stated commitment to eliminate regulations and OSHA’s role as a target for its regulations by business groups, the 1.5% reduction proposed for the agency has supporters breathing a sigh of relief. As is typical when parties switch power, this administration strengthens cooperate resources and takes away from enforcement and standards development. Susan Harwood Training Grants would be eliminated (as every Republican budget proposes), but they are always saved.

MSHA

The proposed budget for MSHA remains about the same as the 2017 CR. 

CSB

CSB would be eliminated. The problems the agency endured under previous leadership has left it vulnerable, as the administration’s justification indicates:

“(I)ts overlap with other agency investigative authorities has generated unhelpful friction. In recent years, CSB's recommendations have also been focused on the need for greater regulation of industry, which has frustrated both regulators and industry. The pressure to tie investigations to management priorities culminated in whistleblower complaints that led to critical reports issued by both the Environmental Protection Agency Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While CSB's new leadership is making progress on the previous management challenges, due to the duplicative nature of its work, the budget recommends eliminating the agency.”

ASSE has strongly supported the CSB over the years. 

Following are links to several budget resources:

 

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