Letter to Congress on Federal Budget
June 25, 2013
Dear Members of Congress:
Across the nation, Head Start programs have ended their school years early, canceled summer programs, cut staff pay and benefits, and have begun to announce reductions in the number of children who will be served in the fall. Programs serving meals to seniors have started to reduce days of home delivery and have closed or reduced hours for dining rooms. The long-term unemployed have lost federal jobless benefits, while job training programs that might have helped them are cut back. Federal funds for education have been cut, with particularly harsh results for schools most reliant on these resources: those on Indian reservations or near military bases. Students counting on college work-study jobs are learning they will not get them. Poor families or people with disabilities perilously close to homelessness after waiting years for a rental voucher have been told they will have to wait longer.
These are just some of the impacts of sequestration. At a time when we need to invest in education, rebuild infrastructure, protect people from hardship, and jumpstart economic growth that finally reaches most of us, sequestration is taking us backwards.
While many are reeling from these impacts of sequestration, the appropriations levels set by the House Republicans for FY 2014 are taking even bigger steps in the wrong direction. Their plan not only assumes next year’s budget continues the devastating sequestration reductions, but it ignores the Budget Control Act’s requirement that half of the $110 billion in additional annual cuts must be imposed on military programs and half imposed on the other areas of government. Instead, the Pentagon budget is increased by 5.4 percent over this year’s spending. In marked contrast, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education are slashed 18.6 percent below this year’s funding, including sequestration. Other important domestic areas are also cut deeply: energy, conservation, and environmental protection programs are cut between 11 – 22 percent.
These are upside-down priorities.
Continuing deep cuts made even worse by shifting funds from vital programs to the Pentagon is wrong. These cuts to needed investments and protections passed in the House in a partisan vote trample on the core American values of providing opportunity for our children, security for our elders, and a strong future for all of our communities. Instead of more cuts to vital programs and more pork for Pentagon contractors, it is time to end tax breaks for the rich and for big corporations.
We urge you to oppose appropriations based on the House-passed levels. Congress should enact a budget based on the values of opportunity and security, to build an America that works for all of us.