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Report: Budget director to tell federal agencies to prepare for major cuts

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Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney will send a guidance to federal agencies this week informing them of major budget cuts to eliminate overspending, according to a new report. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney will reportedly inform federal agencies this week to prepare for major cuts to funding and staff.

The memo, characterized by Axios as a guidance letter, was sparked by President Donald Trump’s March 13 executive order, a “comprehensive plan” to reorganize the executive branch.

The order aims to “improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch by directing  to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies, ... components of agencies, and agency programs.”

The White House’s budget blueprint, which was laid out last month, calls for some major downgrades in federal funding, including a 29 percent cut in State Department funding, a 31 percent cut in the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget and a complete defunding of the National Endowment of the Arts — a change Trump supporter and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wishes the president wouldn’t make.

Both Democrats and Republicans have said such significant State Department cuts are not an option. In February, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said a budget that cuts the State Department’s funding would be “dead on arrival.”

“It would be a disaster. If you take soft power off the table, then you’re never going to win the war,” he said. “What’s most disturbing about the cut in the State Department's budget — it shows a lack of understanding what it takes to win the war.”

And in 2013, James Mattis, who is now President Trump's secretary of defense, criticized any cuts to the State Department.

“If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition,” Mattis, who was then serving as head of military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, told Congress.

By contrast, the Department of Veterans Affairs would enjoy a 6 percent increase in funding, and the Defense Department’s budget would go up 10 percent.

In order to accommodate the cuts, most agencies would have to look into selling real estate, making personnel cuts, or making changes to current programs, either by cutting or consolidating redundant initiatives.

According to the Axios report, updates on budget changes should be expected throughout the year, but a final proposal on agency cuts won’t come until around April 2018.

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