Children threatened by huge cuts to services in early House budget plans
We’re speaking out this week against appalling new budget plans coming from the U.S. House of Representatives. Asked to lower their spending to draconian levels, House committees have been planning for massive cuts to programs children rely on for health services, food assistance and other vital aid.
One House committee plans to permanently repeal the Social Services Block Grant, eliminating $1.7 billion in support for daycare, adoption, protective services and more. That plan, from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, would also effectively exclude immigrants from collecting the Child Tax Credit, which helps working families with the costs of raising children. Subsidies that would help low-income families afford health coverage are also in danger.
Food stamps is likewise targeted with ghastly cuts. The House Agriculture Committee released its plan last week to cut around $36 billion from food stamps, which some estimate would mean 2 million kicked off the rolls. Considering that half of all food stamps recipients are children, this plan is very callous indeed. Moreover, because school feeding programs use food stamp enrollment for acceptance, some 280,000 children stand to lose access to things like free and reduced-price lunch, too.
The House budget resolution asks six committees — Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means – to find a total of $261 billion in cuts to mandatory programs over 10 years, with each committee given a specific target. They will submit their recommendations for the cuts to the Budget Committee by April 27.
The House Budget Committee will then compile the recommendations into a “reconciliation” bill, which the House will probably consider in the next few weeks. The reconciliation process (which you may remember hearing about when it was used to pass health reform in 2010) allows these House policymakers to make cuts even lower than what was agreed to in the deal that ended the federal budget standoff of last fall (the Budget Control Act).
Both the House and Senate must adopt a budget resolution containing reconciliation instructions for that to work, though. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) has already said he won’t bring a budget resolution to the floor this year. So these proposed House cuts will likely go nowhere, and the normal budget cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act will carry Congress through the rest of the year.