411 groups tell Congress: Enact House-proposed spending levels in FY 2023 Appropriations
More than 411 local, state, and national groups signed a letter delivered today to every House and Senate office calling on Congress to agree to House-proposed spending levels for domestic and international (non-defense) discretionary programs in an omnibus funding bill needed by December 16. A copy of the letter, along with the 411 signers, is available here.
“Your constituents are being buffeted by the ongoing consequences of the pandemic, natural disasters, and other international contributors to rising prices and shortages of goods,” the letter states. “These affect their health, their access to work and affordable child care, their ability to pay for basic needs, and their children’s education.” Adequate full-year funding can help people withstand conditions beyond their control, and strengthen our economy in the coming months and beyond.
The signers of this letter represent 411 human service providers, faith groups, policy experts, labor, civil rights, disability, and other anti-poverty advocates. The effort was organized primarily by the Coalition on Human Needs. The groups want to ensure that Congress, when it returns after the election, completes work on full-year appropriations. Failure to act would lead either to a government shutdown in December or more flat funding that will not be enough to meet current needs.
The letter notes that in 2021, more than 40 percent of people with household income less than $50,000 were paying half or more of their income on rent. Similar proportions now report finding it somewhat or very difficult to pay for their regular household expenses. Food and home energy costs are up and the proportion of people who say their households have gone without food in the previous week has risen more than 40 percent since August, 2021 (from 8.2 percent to 11.5 percent).
“All of this is hitting people with low incomes the hardest: rural, urban, women, children, Black, brown, and Indigenous people, the aging and people with disabilities on fixed incomes,” the letter states. “In addition to the moral wrong of ignoring these hardships, if their losses grow, it may trigger or worsen a recession, and that would needlessly threaten our nation’s economic security.”
Through the years, the Coalition on Human Needs has tracked programs particularly targeted to assist people with low incomes. From FY 2020 through FY 2022, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) saw cuts during this period; nearly one-third (31 percent) lost 20 percent or more, taking inflation into account.
“Now and into 2023, increased inflation makes it still more urgent that appropriations for domestic and other non-defense programs keep pace with growing costs and growing need,” the letter states. “Service providers in the public or private sectors must be able to keep salaries and benefits competitive to maintain an adequate workforce; rising costs for rent and supplies also strain their budgets.”
The letter concludes, “Reducing funding for domestic and international programs below the House-proposed levels will jeopardize our ability to respond to urgent human needs and will imperil our capacity to help Americans recover from the multiple disasters they have faced or may face in the year ahead. We urge you to see protecting these funding levels as a matter of national security.”