CHN on Congressional spending bills: Important progress and missed opportunities
Editor’s note: Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, issued the following statement Wednesday in response to the appropriations bills passed by the House on Tuesday:
“The appropriations bills passed by the House of Representatives will provide important help to many Americans. According to Senate Committee analyses, child care funding increases will allow as many as 44,000 more children to be served. Increased funds for affordable housing will prevent the loss of affordable units, with some new construction for units serving seniors and people with disabilities. Medicaid funding is extended for two years for Puerto Rico and the other territories, preventing what would have been truly terrible cuts in health care. Funding for the 2020 Census will allow this massive undertaking to go forward. We appreciate the tenacious work of appropriators and the House leadership to reject harsh Trump cuts and to fight for the increases that were achieved.
“There are also some bitter disappointments. Border wall funding is not increased, but Congress did not assert its authority to prevent transfers of funds to wall construction. Similarly, the Trump Administration is not prohibited by Congress from moving funds to increase anti-immigrant enforcement and detention beds. We hope the courts will continue to rein in the Administration’s harsh and counterproductive anti-immigrant actions.
“In a very disappointing missed opportunity, business tax breaks including those for medical device makers and insurance companies will cost over $200 billion over ten years, as part of an overall tax package costing more than twice that. The Coalition on Human Needs had worked with many other organizations and champions in Congress to seek improvements in tax credits for the poor and near-poor. The most basic fairness requires that if billions in extended or new tax reductions for businesses are included, the poorest children and workers should not be left out. But they were. Low-income workers without dependents will still get very little from the Earned Income Tax Credit, so all the taxes they pay are enough to push them into poverty, or deeper into it. Children in families with very low earnings will still find that they are too poor to get the Child Tax Credit intended to help them.
“We expect these packages of bills will pass the Senate and be signed into law. The increased funding included here will offer some important help. But Congress missed some opportunities to make our tax code serve those who need help the most, and it failed to block the Trump Administration’s abusive anti-immigrant and discriminatory policies. The need to help more people escape poverty and to stop inhumane attacks on immigrants remains urgent, and the members of the Coalition on Human Needs will redouble their efforts towards just and commonsense policies in the new year.”