More than 1,100 groups oppose cuts to non-defense discretionary funding in letter to Congress 


January 11, 2024

The Coalition on Human Needs joined more than 1,100 local, state, and national groups in urging Congress to reject harsh cuts in federal funding and instead to push ahead to finish the FY24 appropriations process, using the bipartisan Senate funding framework as a starting point for negotiations. 

In a letter, the groups warned that a lengthy continuing resolution “would be disastrous for the capacity of the federal government to serve the public, assist those in need, fuel innovation, and address national and global threats.”  The disaster would come because simply extending current spending levels would exceed a cap set in law for domestic and international appropriations, triggering spending cuts of at least 9 percent across-the-board. Congress can avoid that by adhering to the framework in last year’s debt limit legislation, which was reaffirmed by congressional leaders only days ago. 

The letter noted that vital domestic and international appropriations comprise a small part of the federal budget – less than one sixth — “yet they fund a wide range of important programs and services that make America run and strengthen our economy.” 

Examples important to the human needs community cited in the letter include “investments in medical care for veterans; environmental protections; home energy assistance; assistance with housing and child care for low-income families; rural development; K-12 education and skills training; nutrition assistance for young children, families, and older people; financial aid for college students; infrastructure investments in things like transportation choices, sewage treatment, safe drinking water, flood control and navigation improvements,” and much more. CHN tracks many of these investments over time and of the 178 programs we track annually, 123 (more than two-thirds, or 69 percent) saw cuts from FY 2010 through FY 2023, adjusted for inflation. 

The letter noted that enacting a full-year continuing resolution would result in non-defense discretionary spending reductions of as much as 9 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. “The cuts would be enacted over the course of nine months or less instead of a full year, making them even more dramatic and painful,” the letter states. “The results of these cuts would be catastrophic for the American people and violate the agreement Congress made with the White House in June to lift the debt ceiling.” 

Looking ahead, the letter calls on Congress to “finish the FY24 appropriations process adhering to the agreement reached on behalf of the American people, moving funding packages with the necessary funds and without including dangerous poison pill policy riders.” 

You can read the letter in its entirety and see the list of signers here. 

In a statement released earlier this week, CHN said that now that House and Senate leaders have agreed on top-line spending levels, Congress must proceed without delay to complete the FY24 appropriations process. 

“After many months, Congressional leaders have reaffirmed the funding levels agreed to as part of the negotiation to avoid a federal default last year,” the statement read. “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.”

In addition, to help local and state advocates raise their voices and protect key programs such as nutrition, housing, early childhood, and others, CHN has assembled this helpful toolkit.