Congressional Leaders could complete negotiating the 2006 federal budget this week. The decisions they make will have serious impact on important domestic and international programs:
Domestic Programs Threatened: Negotiators are very seriously considering deep cuts to programs that serve low-income families, children, the elderly, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.
- Unemployment Insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), SSI, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), child care, foster care/adoption assistance and the Social Services Block grant (SSBG) are programs under the jurisdiction of the House Ways and Means Committee which could be subject to billions of dollars of cuts. The EITC in particular is said to be targeted for disproportionate cuts.
- The House-passed budget calls for up to $20 billion in cuts to Medicaid, which could have disastrous consequences for the millions of low-income pregnant women, children, elderly, and people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for their health care. Instead of cutting Medicaid, the Senate budget resolution provides funding for a bipartisan commission to review the Medicaid program.
- Both the House and Senate budgets require the Agriculture Committees to make substantial cuts to programs in their jurisdiction--$5.3 billion under the House plan, and $2.8 billion in the Senate. We are very concerned that this could result in cuts to the Food Stamp and child nutrition programs, which help millions of low-income Americans to feed their families.
Protect Funding for International Programs: The USCCB supported the Presidents proposal to budget $33.6 billion for international affairs programs. Neither the House nor the Senate budget resolutions reach that level, but the Senate budget comes closer, allowing almost $33.4 billion for international funding.
- The Senate budget level would allow greater funding for the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ($500 million more than the House) and Child Survival and Maternal Health program ($334 million more than the House).
- Both the House and the Senate budget resolutions call for $3.1 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account and $950 million for the International Development Association to support critically needed investments in developing countries.
Contact your Senators and Representatives immediately and urge them to tell House and Senate leadership that they are unwilling to support a budget resolution requiring cuts to programs that serve poor and vulnerable at home and abroad. Ask them to:
- oppose budget resolution provisions that would require cuts to domestic programs, such as Medicaid, the EITC, Food Stamps, and other programs that low- and moderate-income families, children, the elderly, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups depend upon. Urge them to support the language of the Senate budget resolution for these programs in the final budget agreement.
- support, at a minimum, the Senate budget level of $33.4 billion for international programs -- to combat AIDS/HIV, promote Child Survival and Maternal Health, and fully fund the Millennium Challenge Account and the International Development Association.
USCCB Position: The bishop chairmen of three USCCB committees recently wrote House and Senate leaders reminding them that the federal budget is more than a fiscal plan; it reflects our values as a people, and budget choices have clear moral and human dimensions. The three bishops urged Congressional leaders to follow the Senates lead on both domestic spending for low-income programs and international assistance for poor countries, and stressed that both the spending and revenue sides of the budget ledger must be considered to ensure that there are adequate resources to protect people who are poor and vulnerable.
For More Information: See Contact Kathy Curran at 202-541-3188, email@example.com or Thom Shellabarger at 202-541-3189, firstname.lastname@example.org for domestic issues. Contact Fr. Andrew Small 202-541-3153, email@example.com for international issues.