Blog: Urgent Budget Update

Marge Clark, BVM
Jul 29, 2015

There is real danger of holding human needs funding at very low sequester levels! The House and Senate are stalled on funding for Fiscal Year 2016 – which begins on October 1, 2015. With only eight legislative days in September, they will need to do a temporary funding bill (Continuing Resolution or “CR”) to give them time to figure out the full year. The CR holds funding levels at the current amount for the time designated – likely until December. One huge danger being discussed in Congress is to do a full-year CR – until September 30, 2016. This would be disaster since it would include the low budget caps currently in place. The final funding level for FY2016 will be the baseline used for developing the FY2017 budget. And, that would become the baseline for the 2018 budget. This would lead to each year’s funding becoming less and less!

Sequestration resulted in an across-the-board cut of 8% in 2013. That amount became the baseline for the 2014 budget, but it was to some degree mitigated by the “Murray-Ryan” budget agreement covering the 2014 and 2015 funding levels. However, the continuing low levels are not tenable, and cannot be allowed to go even lower.

Over the last five years, spending cuts have eliminated housing, nutrition, education and other safety-net programs for hundreds of thousands of Americans:

  • Mentoring for Children of Prisoners-ELIMINATED
  • Housing for Persons with Disabilities-CUT 59%
  • Low Income Energy Assistance-CUT 46%
  • Housing for the Elderly-CUT 52%
  • Violence Against Women Act implementation programs-CUT 11%
  • Green Jobs Innovation Fund-ELIMINATED
  • Effective Teaching and Learning in STEM program-ELIMINATED
  • Rural Health programs-CUT 30%
  • HHS Domestic Violence Hotline-CUT 27%
  • Community Health Centers funding-CUT 38%

Continued cuts will cause suffering, and potentially deaths, for members of working families struggling to keep roofs over their heads.

There are two urgent concerns:

  • Members of Congress must work together to make a budget deal to stop sequestration (the budget caps). This needs to be similar to the 2013 agreement by Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray.
  • They cannot resort to a full year Continuing Resolution!

As you communicate with your senators and representatives while they are home in August, it is critical that you tell them how much people would be hurt by sequestration. And, that it is crucial that they do not fall for a full-year CR, as that would set a very low baseline for the next several years’ funding levels.

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