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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Trump Budget Proposal Cuts Independent Living and Other Vital Programs: Contact the Appropriations Committees!

Last week, the President released his budget proposal for FY 2019 (PDF). Unsurprisingly, the budget proposes steep cuts to the programs people with disabilities rely on, including the Independent Living Program! While it’s important to note that this is only a proposal, and Congress will likely not include many of these proposals in their appropriations bills, it does confirm for us the areas we’ll likely have to continue fighting for. We need to make sure our voices are heard NOW, before Congress begins the FY 2019 appropriations process!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingFirst and foremost, the budget proposes cutting the Independent Living line item by $5 million, to a total of $96 million.

  • Note: While the HHS budget document presents this as a $4 million cut, this proposal was drafted before the recent budget agreement. Congress has yet to enact a full-year appropriations bill for 2018, so based on the most recently enacted spending levels (FY 2017), this budget proposes a $5 million cut.

NCIL and the Independent Living community have long been urging Congress for a funding increase, because as we all know, the program has been remarkably underfunded for years! With the addition of the fifth core services, Centers for Independent Living (CILs) around the country are working harder than ever with insufficient funding. We need to ensure that this proposal does not make it into Congressional spending bills. 

Additionally, despite the fact that the President has repeatedly promised not to cut Social Security, the proposed budget would cut over $83 billion over the next 10 years, which includes at least $70 billion to disability programs. Additionally, the budget proposes repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with legislation similar to last year’s Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal, which would eliminate many of the most important provisions of the ACA and slash Medicaid funding through cuts and caps. In addition to the cuts due to Medicaid restructuring, the budget proposes additional cuts to Medicaid totaling $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years.

On top of all of this, the President’s budget proposal would also reduce spending on many other programs people with disabilities rely on. The HHS budget would be slashed by 21% overall – including a $17 million cut to the Developmental Disability Councils and a $6 million cut to the CEDs (Centers for Excellence in Disabilities). Funding would be discontinued for the Limb Loss and Paralysis Resource Centers, with the expectation that other programs, like CILs, would provide those resources – but, of course, without funding to do so! The Department of Education budget would be cut by 10.5%. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) would be cut by nearly 30% and radically restructured; the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) would be defunded; Section 8 vouchers would be cut by nearly $1 billion; and additional major funding cuts and changes to housing, education, and other important programs have been proposed.

While this budget is terrible, Congress will likely not include many of these proposals in their appropriations bills. Additionally, earlier this month Congress passed a two-year budget deal that raised the spending caps on defense and nondefense discretionary (NDD) funding for FY 2018 (by $63 billion) and FY 2019 (by $68 billion), which will allow for higher spending levels. That said, it is still important that our members of Congress hear from us! We need to fight against any cuts that will negatively impact the Independent Living Program and people with disabilities.

The latest Continuing Resolution passed by Congress keeps the government funded through March 23, so they have until then to enact all 12 spending bills for FY 2018. Shortly after that, they’re expected to work on FY 2019 appropriations.

Make sure to talk with your Senators and Representative and urge them not accept Trump’s cuts to Independent Living. Talk to them about the value of Independent Living. Have them visit your local CIL! And make sure they know how important the programs we rely on, like SSDI and Medicaid, are to their disabled constituents, because more changes are on the way. Take action today!


  1. Vincenzoorga says

    Davina Whitethorne joins the CILS team as a Senior Administrative Assistant providing support to both the marketing and development department and the accounting department. “I am very fortunate and thankful for the opportunity to provide support in any way to CILS. I look forward to utilizing my experiences and education to promote CILS’ vision of protecting Indian rights,” Whitethorne said.