Congress Rejects Trump Program Cuts in Long-Sought Spending Bill, But Bullying Tactics Will Hurt Millions


February 15, 2019

Editor’s note: Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, issued the following statement Friday in response to Congressional passage of the remaining FY19 spending bills:

“Congress approved funding for the remaining quarter of government services, finally enabling housing, nutrition, transportation, Census, justice, environmental and other programs to plan and provide needed services through the end of September. The Department of Homeland Security received much less than President Trump requested for his border wall. The President has announced he will sign the bill, but playing the role of Scofflaw in Chief, he is expected to declare a fake emergency to subvert the law just passed.

“The Scofflaw in Chief is not just intent on moving money from other programs to the border wall. The Trump Administration has already been jailing more immigrants than Congress provided funds for, and would be expected to ignore the limits set in this spending bill as well. Congress has included reporting requirements on numbers of immigrants detained and on the disastrous practice of separating children from their families, as well as some increased funding for more humane conditions. These are unsatisfactory substitutes for a needed wholesale reversal of President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. Members of the Coalition on Human Needs urge Congress to do more use its oversight and appropriations powers to turn away from policies that are harming children, families, communities, and our democracy.

“The intransigence of President Trump in seeking his vanity wall hurt millions of people. The 35-day shutdown continues to hurt, with many SNAP/food stamp households having to stretch their benefits to last well over the legal limit of 40 days, contracts for low-income housing disrupted, food service, maintenance and other workers in businesses contracting with the federal government left without pay, and federal workers across government scrambling to catch up with work left undone. The shutdown reminded millions of Americans of the importance of federal services. That it was inflicted because President Trump demanded unnecessary and harmful uses of funds is a further reminder of the unpopularity of the Trump agenda.

“The spending bill just enacted is in fact a bipartisan repudiation of his agenda. In program after program, Congress approved funding levels far higher than the inadequate funding proposed in the Trump budget for this year. A few examples: funding for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development was 48 percent higher than the President’s proposal. Within that, Congress provided 10 percent more for tenant-based rental assistance and 42 percent more for public housing operating funds. The Environmental Protection Agency received 43 percent more than the President’s plan. International humanitarian and disaster assistance received 23 percent more. The Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC) was provided 6 percent more. Commerce, Justice, and Science programs, including the Census Bureau, received nearly 9 percent more than the President’s budget.

“Over and over, the Trump Administration has used and abused its powers to shortchange and harm ordinary and especially vulnerable people. Because Trump and his allies in Congress rejected urgently needed food assistance for Puerto Rico, this disaster assistance was left out of the spending bill. Despite the continuing impact of Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico’s 44 percent poverty rate, Trump has used the worst sort of bullying to refuse $600 million that will prevent food aid from running out starting in late March. As a matter of great urgency, we call upon Congress to enact the funding needed for Puerto Rico to prevent 1.4 million people from going without adequate food.

“Very large majorities in Congress, and in the nation, do not want to deny food and housing to poor people. We do not want to militarize the border and hurt children. President Trump will now try to weaken our democracy through the declaration of a fake emergency to pursue his unpopular and harmful aims. We urge Congress to step up to its constitutional role and say no.”