CHN urges passage of FY 2024 appropriations package


March 22, 2024

Editor’s note: Below is  a letter sent on behalf of the Coalition on Human Needs to all members of the House of Representatives, urging a “yes” vote on the package of appropriations bills before them.  Update: After the House approved the package Friday afternoon, a second letter urging package was delivered to all members of the Senate. The Senate gave final approval to the legislation early Saturday morning, and it is on its way to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Coalition on Human Needs, I strongly urge you to vote for the FY 2024 appropriations package before you today.  This legislation is long overdue, and requires your yes vote to end the threat of government shutdown, allowing federal agencies to gain certainty over their funding so they can get on with providing needed services.

The human service providers, faith groups, policy experts, labor, civil rights, and other advocates for meeting the needs of people with low incomes that make up the Coalition on Human Needs appreciate the work done by appropriators to agree on modest funding levels in this package that fall within the terms of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, making important efforts to preserve services.  The 9 percent increase in Child Care and Development Block Grant funding is an important example of an effort made to prevent the loss of a vital service.  We also appreciate that Head Start and the 988 Suicide Prevention hotline receive modest increases, among other key programs.

We do note that most human needs programs in the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education are flat-funded.  Adjusting for inflation from FY 2023 to FY 2024, that means these services have lost purchasing power.  Even Head Start and Title I K-12 education funding, with modest increases, have gained less than the FY 2023 levels adjusted for inflation based on CBO’s projection of CPI-U inflation for FYs 2023 to 2024.  (For example, Head Start’s funding level for FY 2024 is $12.272 billion in the legislation before you.  To keep pace with inflation  funding would have to reach $12.330 billion, and even that may not fully respond to key challenges in the early childhood workforce..)  Therefore, while we strongly urge you to vote for this appropriations package, we recognize that funding levels for domestic human needs programs are modest.  Congress has more work to do to address health, employment, child care and home and community-based care for the aging and people with disabilities, all levels of education, energy assistance, affordable broadband, and many other unmet needs in the months ahead.  But for now, this legislation deserves your “yes” vote.

CHN supports the U.S. commitment to welcoming refugees who are fleeing persecution and imminent danger as a reflection of our moral and national values, and providing access to supports that will help immigrants integrate into the fabric of our communities. We are disappointed that this bill does not adequately fund services needed to manage migrants humanely and efficiently while increasing the number of detention beds. CHN recognizes the need to address our broken immigration system, and the Coalition on Human Needs supports a comprehensive fix to our nation’s immigration laws. We look forward to working with Congress on proactive and humane policy reforms in the future.

In addition, a decade of deep budget cuts left the IRS unable to provide the reliable and accessible customer service taxpayers deserve and to ensure wealthy taxpayers and corporations pay the taxes they legally owe. We are disappointed that policymakers agreed to IRS rescissions in earlier negotiations, and joined others in expressing our support for IRS baseline appropriations – and are relieved that this package does not cut IRS funding beyond previous agreements. We remain committed to funding for the IRS to continue important customer service improvements for low-income taxpayers, including the direct file pilot, along with ensuring that the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, providing critical revenues to invest in human needs.

Finally, we are glad that most extraneous new policy rider language has been omitted from this legislation, consistent with the letter signed by the Coalition on Human Needs and nearly 200 organizations urging Congress to reject efforts to include poison pill policy riders in final funding bills.

Please finish this long-delayed work of Congress and vote in favor of the FY 2024 appropriations package before you. There is important work ahead, and we urge you to put the needs of people with the lowest incomes first as you turn to FY 2025 appropriations and other legislation.

Sincerely yours,

Deborah Weinstein,Executive Director

Budget and Appropriations