CHN statement: There is still a long way for Congress to go to meet our nation’s needs


January 9, 2024

Editor’s note: Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, released the following statement Tuesday, January 9, 2024 in response to the topline spending agreement reached by Congressional leadership. You can download a pdf version of this statement here.

“After many months, Congressional leaders have reaffirmed the funding levels agreed to as part of the negotiation to avoid a federal default last year. Members of the Coalition on Human Needs have waited with increasing concern that congressional failure to act would result in millions of people losing vital help, limiting their ability to afford rent, food, heat, health care, and much more.  We very much hope that confirming the spending framework will result in quick steps forward to make funding decisions that meet current needs. 

“The Senate has made bipartisan progress towards funding decisions that try to keep pace with need, although proposed increases in areas such as nutrition for mothers and children (WIC) and rental housing subsidies fall short of what is needed at a time of higher food and housing costs.  The House frequently refused to seek bipartisan support for their bills and failed to move forward after catering to extremists pushing for deep cuts and harmful policy changes.  That must change. 

“It is disappointing that the new agreement cuts the IRS more deeply in FY 2024 by speeding up cuts in the previously enacted debt limit negotiation.  Adequately funding the IRS enables it to prevent wealthy tax cheats from avoiding tax payments they owe; that is revenue the nation needs to invest in our future.   

“The Senate Appropriations Committee passed funding bills with strong bipartisan support that did not include poison pill policy riders.  Final enactment of funding bills will not happen without bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and that will only be possible by rejecting divisive policy riders. Members of the Coalition on Human Needs strongly oppose adding restrictive anti-immigrant language and other harmful policies that worsen human needs to funding bills.  Our members, faith groups, human service providers, policy experts, and labor, civil rights, and other national advocacy organizations, know that immigrants help our nation grow in prosperity. We urge Congress to reject proposals to expand mandatory detention and expedited removal, which put more people at risk of being detained in inhumane conditions or separated from their families. 

“Our people cannot afford further delay in Congress.  We must not risk denying basic nutrition aid to mothers, babies, and toddlers.  Nor should we risk making it even harder for families and retirees with low incomes to pay their heating bills or their rent.  With the most recent data showing a record-breaking 111,000 drug overdose deaths, we must provide funding for treatment. Our families need child care. Our children need protection from lead poisoning in water and paint.  People in communities across our nation recognize that failure to fund these services adequately worsens emergency conditions.  This is not a time for political grandstanding and gridlock.  Congress must follow up on the funding framework agreed to by Senate Majority Leader Schumer, House Speaker Johnson, and Minority Leader Jeffries with responsible funding bills that meet our needs.” 

Budget and Appropriations