When Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States, many of us had questions about whether the United States would continue to meet its trust responsibility to Native Americans. We hoped that Trump would meet it robustly, even if perhaps in a somewhat different manner than President Obama. President Trump’s reversals on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline decisions were ominous signs. This week Trump provided even more insights into his priorities. On Tuesday, May 23, 2017, President Trump sent his Fiscal Year 2018 spending blueprint to Congress. This proposal reflects President Trump’s opening bid in negotiations with Congress for the fiscal future of our country, beginning with the fiscal year starting October 1 of 2017.
Overall, Trump’s proposal increases defense spending significantly and cuts deeply most programs for the poor. Trump’s budget slashes federal Indian country appropriations by more than 10 percent. For example, at $2.488 billion, Trump’s request for the U.S. Department of Interior’s Indian Affairs budget alone is a $300 million cut from Obama’s FY 2016 budget, which was the last full year appropriation (we have since operated on continuing resolutions). Trump’s proposal also cuts more than $50 million for the Indian country housing programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and zeroes out $8 million from the BIA budget for housing. For the Indian Health Service, Trump’s budget eliminates roughly $150 million.