In what can only be described as a colossal disappointment, the US Congress is on the verge of approving a FY 2023 “omnibus” appropriations bill that provides a piddling 3.3% increase for OSHA, an agency that has been starved for funding for well over a decade.  The Washington Post reports that “Democrats did not achieve all of the increases to domestic spending that they initially had sought, a concession in talks with Republicans, who are set to assume control of the House in January.”

For OSHA, that’s an understatement.

The FY 2023 OSHA budget calls gives the agency $632,309,000. That’s only $20 million more than FY 2022, almost 14% less than President Biden requested (not including additional FY 2023 COVID funding), and 13% less than the House proposal. To put that all in perspective, OSHA’s budget comes to about 4-millionths of 1% of the entire $1.4 trillion budget.  Elon Musk bought Twitter for over 60 times OSHA’s annual budget. And how many lives does Twitter save every year?

This disappointing news comes only a few days after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a significant increase in the numbers and rates of workers killed on the job in 2021.

Given the current inflation rate of over 7%, the FY 2023 budget comes to roughly a 4% cut in the agency’s budget.

Given the current inflation rate of over 7%, the FY 2023 budget comes to roughly a 4% cut in the agency’s budget.

(See the detailed budget tables below)

Both Houses of Congress still need to hold a final vote on the appropriations bill before the government runs out of money midnight on Friday.  Although most Republicans are opposing the bill, wanting to wait until they take control of the House in January, the budget contains enough additional defense spending to likely bring at least 10 Republicans on board.

The Details

The sort-of-semi-“good” news in the budget was that the Standards and Guidance line item received a $1.5 million (7.7%) increase over FY 2022. That was $8 million less than the President’s request and far less than OSHA needs to provided needed regulatory protections for American workers, but it finally edges the Standards budget over the $20 million level at the end of the Obama administration. Trump’s first budget had cut OSHA’s Standards budget by 10% to $18 million and it had never caught up to the Obama high-point until now.

While much of the agency’s COVID and infectious disease standards work has been funded by the American Rescue Plan, there is still an enormous lot of resource-intensive work that needs to be done to move forward on OSHA’s Workplace Violence, Heat and Process Safety Management standards.

State Plans would receive a 6.2% increase. Part of that will go toward funding a new Massachusetts Public Employee-only plan.  Massachusetts is joining Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Maine with a public-employee only plan.  That leaves “only” 23 states where public employees still have no right to a safe workplace.

The Susan Harwood Training Grant program received a $1 million (8.5%) increase and OSHA’s Enforcement budget went up by $7 million (3%). The Whistleblower program received a $1 million (4.7%) increase.

Mine Safety and Health Administration

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will receive $387,816, a 1% increase.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will receive $362 million, a 3.1% increase over last year.

Frightening Future

The most frightening part of this (and last year’s) disappointing budgets is that this is the last year of unified Democratic control over both houses of Congress and the White House. (“Unified” is a bit of an exaggeration as the annual budget still requires Republican cooperation to get over the 60-vote filibuster).  For at least the next few years, the budgets will have to churn through a Republican controlled House. a

And whatever the world will looks like after 2024, it’s unlikely to be better than it is now. Not only is 2024 a Presidential election year, but the Dems will have 23 seats up for grabs that year, three in strong Republicans states — Sherrod Brown (OH), John Tester (MT), Joe Manchin (WV)  — and the newly independent Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), who could run as an third party candidate, splitting Democratic votes in a highly competitive state.


FY 2023 Workplace Safety Budgets (Thousands of Dollars)

FY 2022 Final BudgetFY 2023 Final BudgetDollar Change from FY 2022Percent Change from FY 2022
Standards and Guidance$19,500 $20,100$6003.08
Whistleblower$21,500 $22,500 $1,000 4.65%
State Enforcement$113,000 $120,000 $7,000 6.19%
Technical Support$25,675 $25,675$00%
Federal Compliance Assistance$77,262 $77,762 $500.65%
State Compliance Assistance$63,160 $62,661 -$499-.79%
Training Grants (Harwood)$11,787 $12,787 $1,000 8.48%
Safety and Health Statistics$34,500 $34,750 $750.72%
Executive Administration$9,631 $9,831 $2002.08%
TOTAL OSHA$612,015$632,309$20,2943.3%
TOTAL MSHA$383,816$387,816$4,0001.0%
TOTAL NIOSH$351,800$362,800$11,0003.1%
11 thoughts on “Congress Effectively Cuts OSHA Budget for 2nd Straight Year”
  1. If you can’t get the budget increase with a DEM-controlled government, probably not going to happen in 2023 or 2024 either. Doesn’t matter who is in power, the Bureaucratic State is running optimally!
    Was your vote for Grandpa Joe worth it Jordan?

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