What to expect in Biden’s fiscal 2025 budget

By Emma Dumain, Manuel Quiñones | 03/11/2024 06:20 AM EDT

The White House says it aims to reduce the deficit by about $3 trillion over 10 years. “Big Oil” is in the crosshairs.

President Joe Biden.

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally Saturday at Pullman Yards in Atlanta. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

President Joe Biden will release his fiscal 2025 election-year budget blueprint Monday without Congress having finalized spending work for the current fiscal year.

The dynamic could complicate an annual event that is already inherently hyperpartisan and political.

“I had a dream the president is going to say … ‘I’m so proud to be expanding access to our extraordinary rich [natural] resources in places like Alaska, I’m so proud that we’re going to use them as the prototype for all energy innovation,’” quipped Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking member on the Senate Interior-EPA Appropriations Subcommittee. “That’s my dream. Do I believe that’s going to actually happen? In no way on God’s green earth.”


In a nonbinding budget request Capitol Hill typically ignores — especially in a divided Congress — the president will likely call for big increases to energy and environment programs with a focus on climate change and environmental justice.

These are the very programs House Republicans, including Murkowski, have spent months attacking and that have barely survived protracted and delayed fiscal 2024 negotiations.

Biden, for example, proposed a 19 percent increase for EPA last year and ended up getting a nearly $1 billion cut in legislation passed Friday.

The White House would have increased funding for the Interior Department by 12 percent, but the department got flat funding and saw many of its bureaus cut.

“We’re going to be in deep trouble if [Republicans] try to do the same thing next time,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, the top Democrat on the House Interior-EPA Appropriations Subcommittee. “You can do these [cuts] sort of once, but next time, we’ll be in deep trouble.”

Fossil fuels are likely to be a budget target once again. The White House said it’s part of a plan to reduce the deficit by roughly $3 trillion over 10 years.

“I … want to end tax breaks for Big Pharma, Big Oil, private jets, massive executive pay when it was only supposed to be … a million dollars that could be deducted. They can pay them $20 million if they want, but deduct a million. End it now,” Biden said during his State of the Union address.

Biden also promised last week to “triple,” by the end of this decade, the current 20,000 eligible participants in American Climate Corps, a new multiagency program the president created through an executive order last fall that would train and place young people in green jobs.

In the fiscal 2024 spending package that went into effect this weekend, Republicans succeeded in blocking new funding for the Agriculture Department to implement “climate corps efforts in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.”

But the fiscal 2025 budget cycle marks the administration’s first chance since the larger American Climate Corps executive order to ask for new funding for this specific program.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) popularized the concept of a climate corps with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), at one point succeeding in securing its inclusion in the Inflation Reduction Act to receive as much as $20 billion — but the progressive priority was cut in the final negotiations in a bid to find cost savings.

Markey told E&E News last week he and others were “working with” the Biden administration, “advocating for the highest possible numbers of reallocation within their budgets to make sure” there’s adequate funding in the broader spending framework to support a robust American Climate Corps.

“I know the president is committed,” Markey said. “I’m very optimistic with regard to the budget.”

Republicans, however, have scoffed at the concept, calling it a socialist scheme to reward radical environmental activists. Moreover, they are far from likely to give Biden anywhere near the amount of support he could endorse in his budget request.

Wish lists

Some Republicans said they remained hopeful Biden’s budget request would aim to find some areas of agreement around energy issues.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), chair of the House Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee, who saw his bill pass as part of the six-bill spending package last week, said he was “so thankful for the way [our] bill came together” and hoped “the administration would look at the bipartisan and bicameral bill, and tremendous amont of common ground.”

He listed nuclear energy, reprocessing, high-assay low-enriched uranium, legacy cleanup, the Office of Science and fusion as areas that enjoyed bipartisan support in the recent spending bill.

“I would expect him to read the bill in fiscal 2024 to try to get to those levels and give us a work product we can work with,” said Fleischmann of Biden. “I’ve told [Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm] … it’s a lot easier if it’s in the administration’s budget for us to advocate for something.”

Fleischmann added Granholm would be appearing before his subcommittee to defend her agency’s fiscal 2025 budget request March 20.

Democrats, meanwhile, were holding out hope that Biden would endorse their priorities in his spending framework.

Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) said he wanted to see money requested to build out the infrastructure for renewable energy permitting, like new transmission lines.

“We’re gonna need some incentives to help the large utilities … be able to make these capital expenditures,” he said.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries, said he’d like to see the administration commit to funding to clamp down on illegal, unrelated and unreported fishing, which is commonly linked to forced labor practices.

“The refrain we always hear from Commerce and NOAA is they don’t have the resources,” said Huffman, “so I would love to see a budget request that actually prioritizes doing something about all of the slave labor that’s in our seafood supply chain.”

Unfinished business

The White House is also likely to propose increased spending on international climate programs for fiscal 2025, buoyed by the commitments the U.S. made to the global community at last December’s COP 28 climate summit.

Still, even though lawmakers have yet to finish their State-Foreign Operations bill for fiscal 2024, global climate efforts are unlikely to fare well.

A senior Republican aide familiar with those negotiations, and granted anonymity to speak candidly, said the myriad cuts to international climate aid programs contained in the House Republican-passed State-Foreign Operations bill had been elevated to the leadership level in recognition of the stark differences between the two parties and chambers on these issues.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, said last Thursday talks were going “slowly but surely” and that she didn’t want to comment on the ongoing sticking points: “I don’t want to take anything off course.”

Ultimately, Biden’s budget is expected to reflect his mindfulness, in an election year, of appearing aggressive in his actions to confront the climate crisis — an area important for mobilizing young, progressive voters.

The president is continuing campaign-related travel this week, planning trips to New Hampshire on budget day and Wisconsin and Michigan on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

But as evidence of how much Republicans are paying attention to what Biden wants, the House Budget Committee already approved a fiscal 2025 blueprint taking aim at the Inflation Reduction Act.

The White House budget may get a warmer reception when the Senate Budget Committee holds a hearing this week led by Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), arguably the Senate’s foremost climate hawk.

Schedule: The hearing is Tuesday, March 12, at 10:15 a.m. in 608 Dirksen and via webcast.

Witness: Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young.

Reporters Andres Picon and Kelsey Brugger contributed.