Budget & Appropriations

CHN advocates for a federal budget that gives priority to human needs, recognizing that critical investments provide opportunity and security for low- and moderate-income people.

About CHN's Stance on Budget & Appropriations

The federal budget is an expression of our nation’s priorities, and an engine for realizing them. Federal investments should spur economic growth that benefits all, reducing inequality and ensuring that our society provides all people with the building blocks of a decent life: food, housing, health care, education, and training; opportunities to work and care for family members; and income supplements when work pays too little or is not possible, including for seniors in retirement and people with disabilities.


Protecting and improving federal programs that ensure economic security and individual and family well-being are the central goals of the Coalition on Human Needs. Decisions about federal investments should begin with an assessment of unmet needs. The President’s budget, Congressional Budget Resolutions, and subsequent appropriations bills should all provide for real growth in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable and realize the goal of reducing poverty and increasing economic security for all Americans. These goals and the challenges of providing health care for all and ensuring retirement security for an aging population can be met by federally funded investments that spur broadly shared economic growth, paid for by a responsible combination of revenues, savings, and sustainable levels of borrowing.


Failure to control wasteful spending makes it harder to meet our country’s needs. The Pentagon and Homeland Security budgets should be subject to the same oversight and discipline as other spending. The Pentagon’s budget is at an all-time high, and it exceeds the defense budgets of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the United Kingdom, and Japan combined. Yet the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has never passed a basic financial audit. Powerful special interests — and the members they influence in Congress – must not be allowed to continue to fund programs and weapon systems that even the Pentagon has not requested and does not need. Similarly, funds for border walls and harsh anti-immigrant enforcement measures do not enhance our security.  Reducing wasteful and ineffective military spending will lead to improved national and economic security for our nation.


Caps on domestic and international appropriations have reduced spending on domestic discretionary spending to about 3 percent of GDP in 2018, down from a 55-year average closer to 4 percent. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 lifted discretionary budget caps for FYs 2018 and 2019, allowing some important increases in human needs spending. Even with this progress, however, many human needs programs are still well below their FY 2010 levels, adjusted for inflation. If the spending caps return in FY 2020, domestic and international discretionary spending will be cut $55 billion below FY 2019 levels, a cut of more than 9 percent. Such a decline would force unacceptable reductions across the wide range of domestic programs, disproportionately harming vulnerable communities and our children.


You can learn more about the positions that CHN takes on various issues reviewing our public policy document.

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