CHN: House Rejects Dangerous Budget Process Bill

In a major win for advocates, the House of Representatives decisively rejected legislation June 24 that would have resulted in major cuts to services for low-income working families, seniors, children, those with disabilities and other vulnerable people.
Congress rejected by a vote 146 to 268 the Spending Control Act (HR 4663), a bill sponsored by Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA). HR 4663 (previously HR 3973) set tight spending restrictions on programs that must be appropriated each year, such as education, housing, some child welfare and child care programs, Head Start, job training, and many other programs. In addition, the bill included a one-sided “pay-as-you-go” provision that would have paved the way for Congress to pass more tax cuts that are not paid for and made it much more difficult to increase spending on programs for vulnerable people.

The crucial victory came after hundreds of religious, labor, civil rights, service provider and advocacy organizations sent letters and made phone calls to Congress to warn them of the dangerous implications of the proposed changes. Kudos goes to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for its work in educating the human needs community about the effect of budget changes and to Fair Taxes for All for its help uniting multiple communities in opposition to the budget process bill.

Congress also rejected by a vote of 120 to 296 a dangerous amendment sponsored by Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL) that would have cut spending on Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Food Stamps, child care, welfare-to-work, and other entitlement programs by more than $445 billion over the next ten years. An even more restrictive amendment sponsored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) was defeated 326 to 88. The underlying bill and several of the amendments would have placed the full burden of deficit reduction on the millions of Americans who rely on government services, and most especially on vulnerable people – children, elders, those with disabilities, and low-income working families.

Many conservatives view last week’s votes as a first step in a long-term effort to limit the role of the federal government to invest in meeting human needs and to make it easier to pass additional tax breaks. Spiraling deficits will ensure this topic does not go away any time soon. Observers expect Congress to continue debating how to trim spending and whether tax cuts can be afforded. In response, advocates must continue to speak out on the need to find ways of resolving deficits without balancing the federal budget on the backs of low-income people.

To see how your member of Congress voted on final passage of the budget process bill, click here.
To see how your member of Congress voted on the amendment that would cut entitlement spending by $445 billion, click here.

For More Information
National Urban League: Budget Cuts Disproportionately Hurt Hispanic Families
National Urban League: Budget Cuts Disproportionately Hurt African-American Families
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Key Issues and Threats in the House Budget Process Debate
CHN letter to House of Representatives on budget process legislation
Fair Taxes for All: Budget Process Victory!

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