CHN: Budget Could Move Forward in the House; Proposed Cuts to Select Programs Move, Too

After weeks of delay and uncertainty, the House budget resolution could be unveiled and debated this Wednesday in the House Budget Committee. The budget is almost certain to call for cuts to low-income programs that serve low-income and other disadvantaged populations.
To garner enough support from conservatives for the resolution, Republican leaders last week released plans to cut certain mandatory programs (those not subject to the annual appropriations process). House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) produced plans that would cut $16.5 billion over two years and $98 billion over 10 years by eliminating the $1.7 billion Social Services Block Grant (H.R. 4724), denying the Child Tax Credit to millions of children (mostly citizens) in low-income working immigrant families (H.R. 4722), and ending limits on how much can be recovered if people getting insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act receive too much based on their actual income (H.R. 4723). These proposals are expected to be marked up on Wednesday, March 16. In addition, Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) released a plan to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund created under the Affordable Care Act, reduce Medicaid reimbursements to states for people in prison, and cut federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. His proposals, which would cut $25 billion over 10 years, will be taken up in that committee starting Monday, March 14.

Many members of the GOP, still unhappy that Congress last year approved replacing most of the scheduled sequester cuts for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, called for cuts to mandatory programs. They claimed these cuts would offset the additional $30 billion in discretionary spending approved as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act Congress passed last fall. However, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out, policymakers already paid for the $30 billion discretionary funding increase when they provided in in the Bipartisan Budget Act. And the cuts being proposed go well beyond the $30 billion increase over a 10-year period.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) announced last week that he was postponing a markup of a budget resolution, leading many to believe the Senate won’t release a budget any time soon, if at all. Because the budget deal passed last fall included totals for discretionary spending for FY17, the appropriations process can go forward even without a budget resolution.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus will be holding a press conference on Tuesday, March 15 to address their budget proposal, “The People’s Budget.” Many advocates support this for its investments in programs that help lift low-income Americans out of poverty and to create millions of jobs. Coalition on Human Needs’ executive director Deborah Weinstein announced CHN’s endorsement of The People’s Budget in a Huffington Post opinion piece.

For many more details on President Obama’s budget request, including sections on select departmental budget requests and tax policy, see our February 16 special edition Human Needs Report. For more information on all things budget, see our FY17 budget resource page.       

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