Washington’s Mission to Cut Spending

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Politicians say that budgets are moral documents that¬†outline the priorities of a¬†government and its people. Last week the focus in Washington was what to do about fiscal year 2011 spending,¬†which has yet to be completed, and President Obama‚Äôs budget for fiscal year 2012. By the end of the week the talk in Washington was not, ‚Äėwhy should we cut spending during an economic downturn,‚Äô but, ‘how much should we cut and from which programs’. The bottom line: the cuts are coming and they will hurt women, children and families. Below is a summary of what programs are on the chopping block and how you can take action to prevent them from being cut.

FY 2011 and the House CR

Currently, the federal government is operating on a continuing resolution until March 4, 2012. Advocates expect Congress to pass another short-term CR before completing work on a longer-term budget for the remaining seven months of FY2011 (through September 30, 2011).

Last week the House of Representatives passed H.R.1, a continuing resolution, which would fund the government for the remaining seven months of FY2011, by a vote of 235-189. Many Republicans voted for the bill, all Democrats, and a handful of Republicans voting against it. The bill would cut $61 billion from current 2010 spending levels. (Equal to a $100 billion cut from President Obama’s 2011 budget.)

H.R.1 eliminates funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS) and Planned Parenthood. H.R.1 cuts funding from programs that help women and children including:

  • Head Start by $1 billion and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG)¬†by $39 million;
     
  • Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) by $405 million and the Community Development Block Grant by $2.49 billion; and
  • billions of dollars from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), and hundreds of millions of dollars from¬†the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program.

The Senate will begin to work on their CR the week of February 28. Advocates do not expect the Senate to vote on H.R.1 when they return after recess. However, the Senate may put forth their own cuts.

President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget

In addition to the action on the CR, on Monday, February 14, President Obama released his budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012.

The budget proposal would fund the fiscal year that starts on October 1, 2011 and ends on September 30, 2012. In comparison to H.R. 1, the budget takes a modest approach to reducing government spending, recognizing that cutting too much too soon would result in job losses and could further weaken the economy. The budget freezes discretionary spending which funds vital safety-net programs, cuts military spending, and recommends the tax cuts for individuals making $200,000 or more a year expire in 2013. The budget also cuts some vital programs that help women, children and families including the Community Services Block Grant, Community Development Block Grant, and the Low Income Energy Assistance (LIHEAP).

What You Can Do!

Call: It is essential that you contact your Members of Congress. To contact your Member of Congress, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to the office of your Representative or Senators. You will need to make three calls- one to each of your members. To find the name of your member of Congress, click here.

  • Message: My name is _______ and I am a constituent. I am calling to ask the Representative/Senator to pass a yearlong continuing resolution at current funding levels with no cuts to programs that help women and children, including the community development block grant, or the child care development block grant.

    Women and children did not cause the deficit and they should not be punished for it. 

Attend town hall meetings! Contact your Senators’ and Representative’s district offices and ask if they are hosting any town halls in February or March. Show up¬†and¬†speak on the programs important to you.¬†To find contact information for your members of Congress, click here.

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