Doyle Condemns House-Passed 2011 Federal Budget Bill
Pittsburgh, PA – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle condemned H.R. 1, the bill passed 235 to 189 February 19 by the Republican-controlled House to fund federal government operations for the rest of Fiscal Year 2011, citing the devastating impact on safety, health care, education, and essential investments in public infrastructure and scientific research that enactment of this bill would have on our country.
The Congressman’s remarks came in response to information released by House Appropriations Committee staff on the adverse impact that H.R. 1 would have.
“I voted against the Republicans’ destructive and counterproductive bill to pay for government operations for the rest of the year,” Congressman Doyle said today. “This bill constitutes a wholesale attack on programs and services that the American people overwhelmingly support.”
“Frankly, it’s exactly what I’d expect to see when people who hate government are put in charge of it,” Congressman Doyle observed. “They say government is useless and inefficient, and if they get their way, it soon will be.”
“The American people understand that we need to get federal budget deficits under control,” Doyle added, “but they also want the federal government to continue to carry out many of the activities it is uniquely positioned to do – like make sure our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and prescription drugs are safe to take. The federal government is also uniquely positioned – and has the clear responsibility – to provide adequate national defense and homeland security for our citizens. Similarly, the federal government plays an essential role in addressing issues that cross state and local boundaries – issues like pollution, telecommunications, our waterways, and interstate commerce. The federal government also provides billions of dollars each year for basic research that improves our lives and promotes our nation’s long-term economic growth. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“The cuts House Republicans have approved are so drastic that they would severely disrupt operations at many federal agencies,” Congressman Doyle added. “Needless to say, this funding bill would completely eliminate others. I’m concerned that millions of Americans would suffer as a result. Moreover, I believe that making such dramatic spending cuts right now will significantly slow economic growth and job creation.”
Economists at a major bank recently estimated that enactment of this “scorched earth” spending bill could reduce economic growth by up to 2 percentage points in the second and third quarters of this year. The Ecomomic Policy Institute estimates that enactment of this bill would destroy 800,000 jobs.
“The federal funding bill rammed through the House by the Republican majority last week falls short on all these fronts,” Doyle observed. “The information provided today by the Democratic staff of the House Appropriations Committee highlights many of the ways the House Republicans’ “stewardship” of the federal government would fall short.”
“I will fight in the coming weeks and months to put a more reasonable federal funding plan in place.”
Earlier today, the Democratic staff of the House Appropriations Committee provided the following information about the effect that funding the federal government at the levels set in H.R. 1 (also referred to as the Continuing Resolution or CR) would have on the American public:
PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY
• Food and drug safety: H.R. 1 would cut funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by $241 million below the agency’s 2010 funding level. This would lead to furloughs and/or RIFs of hundreds of FDA staff – including those who inspect our domestic and imported foods.
• Safety of our meat and poultry: H.R. 1 funds the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is responsible for the safety of the meat and poultry we eat, at its 2008 funding level. This is $88 million below current funding. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says this would mean furloughing the federal inspectors in slaughter and processing plants. Since plants cannot operate without inspectors, the plants would have to close their doors. USDA estimates those plants would have to shut down for six to nine weeks. This will hurt the plants, the economies in their towns, the workers, producers and consumers. USDA estimates an economic loss of $11 billion.
• Public Safety: The CR cuts funding for Justice Department state and local law enforcement grants (including COPs, the Office of Justice Programs and the Office of Violence Against Women) by over $1 billion, or 27 percent. Such a cut would significantly reduce criminal justice activities and law enforcement operations and personnel across the country.
• Violence Against Children: The CR cuts Justice Department juvenile justice grants nearly in half (by $191 million). The juvenile justice grants fund violence prevention grants, child abuse investigation and prosecution grants, and community-based violence prevention programs.
• Federal Courts and Justice System: HR 1 cuts judiciary branch salaries and expenses by more than 10 percent – down to $4.521 billion, $476 million below the current CR level. Cuts to the Judiciary will force the federal courts to lay off more than 2,400 support staff and stop payments to attorneys who represent indigent criminal defendants. These layoffs will include probation officers and pre-trial staff, therefore, there will be fewer probation officers to monitor sex offenders and felons, perform law enforcement duties, and protect the general public.
• Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA would be cut by $99 million (18 percent) below FY 2010. Because these cuts would come half-way through the current fiscal year, OSHA would have to furlough all of its staff for up to three months, resulting in 8,000 fewer workplace hazard inspections. In addition, the OSHA appropriation provides up to 50 percent of funding for state workplace safety programs, which currently protect 40 percent of the nation’s workers. States would also be forced to curtail their inspections as a result of the funding cut.
• Gutting communities’ ability to provide clean water and safe drinking water: The CR would slash the clean water and drinking water state revolving funds by more than 50 percent, dramatically reducing the number of wastewater and drinking water projects communities could finance.
SCIENCE, ECONOMIC GROWTH, AND JOB CREATION
• Energy Research and Development: H.R. 1 would cut nearly $1.4 billion from scientific research at the Department of Energy. Federally supported basic research has been a reliable source of new knowledge and new products. A $1.1 billion cut to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science would significantly curtail fundamental research in areas of science that are a key to our nation’s prosperity and to preserving America’s place as the world leader in science and technology. A further cut of $250 million to the newly established ARPA-E program will severely curtail a program that has shown promise in leveraging private funding for cutting edge science. The proposed cut would be a major setback to U.S. leadership in science and technology.
• Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation: This bill would cut funding for the nation’s water infrastructure programs $816 million below current levels and would result in the termination of more than 350 ongoing projects and the delay of important projects like the Reducing the level of investment in these areas is penny-wise and pound foolish. H.R. 1 would cut an additional $163 million in funds already appropriated.
• National Science Foundation: Funding NSF at the level in H.R. 1 would force the Foundation to fund 5,500 fewer researchers, compared to FY 2010 funding – undermining America’s efforts at breakthrough basic research in science and engineering.
AID FOR SENIORS, LOW-INCOME FAMILIES, AND VETERANS
• Nutrition Assistance: The WIC nutrition assistance program would be cut by more than $740 million, compared to the FY 2010 level – which would require thousands of parents, pregnant mothers, and children to be dropped from the program.
• Low-Income Energy Assistance: Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) would be cut by almost $400 million – leaving out in the cold many of the seniors and families with children in need of help in paying high energy bills.
• Title X: Title X is eliminated, which provides life-saving health services, including HIV testing, cancer screening, blood-pressure testing, and contraceptive services, for more than 5 million low-income women, two-thirds of whom are uninsured.
• Housing for Homeless Veterans: Eliminates a program of housing vouchers for homeless veterans. In January 2009, more than 75,000 veterans were homeless and over the course of the year nearly twice that many (136,000) spent at least one night in a homeless shelter.
• Community Development: H.R. 1 would cut the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program by nearly two-thirds (62 percent), from $4 billion to $1.5 billion.
CONSUMER PROTECTION IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
• Securities and Exchange Commission: $1.07 billion proposed, $41 million below the current CR level, which leaves the regulatory agency with fewer staff to investigate potential misconduct and police securities markets to prevent another financial crisis. Further, this level will not allow the implementation of the recently enacted financial reform law ((“Dodd-Frank”), meaning that hedge funds, credit rating agencies, and broker-dealers will continue to operate without regulation, therefore increasing the risk of another fiscal meltdown.
• Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: The CR would cut funding for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the agency to ensure consumers get a fair deal on credit cards, mortgages, and other financial products – nearly in half, from $143 million to $80 million.
• Title I Grants to School Districts for Disadvantaged Children: The Republican CR cuts nearly $700 million from one of the Federal Government’s two major formula programs that provide aid for education to States and localities. This amounts to a 4 percent cut to Title I below last year’s funding level. Title I provides critical federal support to thousands of schools serving nearly 1 million disadvantaged students. These funds pay for teachers, tutors, and after school programs—this reduction in funding could eliminate 10,000 teachers and aides in these struggling schools.
• Head Start Early Childhood Education: Head Start is providing comprehensive early childhood services to almost one million low-income children and their families. The cut of $1.1 billion, or 14 percent, below the FY2010 appropriation, would translate to a massive loss of comprehensive early childhood services, causing nearly 218,000 children across the country to be kicked out of the Head Start program this year (a cut over 20 percent and close more than 16,000 Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms.
• Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy: The Republican bill cuts $439 million from Striving Readers – a comprehensive birth through grade 12 literacy program. This is the only targeted federal literacy funding for teacher training and research-based interventions for students who cannot read and write well enough to progress in school. The program supports 114,000 students and 2,900 jobs. The cut is achieved through a rescission of $189 million from balances currently available for the program, combined with zero new appropriations for FY 2011 (compared to $250 million appropriated in FY 2010).
• After-School Programs: The Republican CR cuts $100 million from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program at the Department of Education. This funding supports programs that provide additional time for students, particularly those who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools, to participate in enrichment activities that complement their regular academic program. Hundreds of thousands of working families nationwide depend on these services for their school age children. The cut produces a 9% reduction in funding which would likely mean that 800 fewer sites could be funded, and some 130,000 to 140,000 fewer children could receive after-school services.
• Pell Grants and Other Student Aid: The Republican CR cuts the maximum Pell Grant amount from the current level of $5,550 to $4,705 for the coming academic year. Pell Grants provide the basic foundation of federal student aid and help 9 million students afford to attend college. The CR also entirely eliminates federal funding ($757 million in FY 2010) for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which colleges and universities use to assist undergraduates who have the greatest financial needs. That program assisted about 1.3 million college students last year.
JOB TRAINING AND LABOR PROGRAMS
- Job Training/Employment Services: The CR would slash funding for job training by $3.6 billion, nearly eliminating federal funding for job training programs and cutting training for more than 200,000 Americans out of work through no fault of their own. The basic formula grant programs under the Workforce Investment Act, which received just under $3 billion in regular and advance appropriations in last year’s appropriations bill, receive zero funding in the new CR. The result would be that State and local systems that provide employment and training services to dislocated workers, new entrants into the workforce, and low-income youth would have to begin phasing out their operations entirely this year.
- New enrollment in job training would be terminated, and current participants would be forced to leave training programs that are already underway, affecting up to 8 million workers seeking services this year. Other cuts include a $100 million (44%) rescission from the Dislocated Worker national reserve, and the complete elimination of numerous other programs such as Youthbuild (which received $103 million in FY 2010) and Green Jobs ($40 million in FY 2010). At-risk youth would be hurt further by the $300 million rescission in funding for Job Corps which could result in as many as 10,000 fewer program slots and reduced training at Job Corps centers.
• National Institutes of Health: The Republican bill cuts appropriations for the National Institutes of Health by $1.6 billion below current levels. This reduction would be a significant setback to research to find and improve treatments for cancer and other diseases. Many ongoing clinical studies would have to be curtailed and funding for current research grants would have to be cut below planned levels. The NIH cuts also include complete elimination of the $300 million provided through the NIH budget for the Global Fund to Combat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
• Health Professions and Nurse Training: The CR cuts the HHS health professions training programs by $57 million or 23 percent below the FY 2010 level. These programs are primarily designed to expand the number of primary care providers in medically underserved areas. In addition, the CR cuts a separate group of programs that support training of nurses and scholarships for nursing students by $88 million or 36 percent.
• Family Planning: The bill entirely eliminates funding for the title X Family Planning program, which received $317 million in FY 2010. This program helps support family planning and reproductive health services to more than 5 million people annually at 4,500 community-based clinics. Grantees include state and local health departments, hospitals, community health centers, and private non-profit organizations. Services provided include the full range of contraceptive services, as well as screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer and HIV screenings, education, and other preventive services.
• Teen Pregnancy Prevention: The bill also eliminates funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program (which received appropriations of $110 million in FY 2010). This program makes competitive grants to public agencies and private non-profit organizations to support evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention efforts.
SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE
- Medicare Operations: The Republican bill cuts appropriations for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by $458 million below current levels. This amounts to a 13 percent overall reduction from last year and would leave appropriations a bit below their level five years earlier. Most of these funds are used for review and processing of payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers for services to Medicare patients. Cuts of this magnitude will cause serious problems for the timely payment of claims (jeopardizing the financial health of some providers), as well as hampering efforts to reduce fraud and abuse in the program.
- Social Security Operations: The Republican bill cuts funding for operations at the Social Security Administration by $125 million below FY 2010 and $1.057 billion below the President’s request. It also rescinds $500 million currently available to Social Security for its information technology needs. These cuts will severely hamper efforts to keep up with growing workloads and reduce the backlog of pending claims for disability benefits. At the very minimum, they will force indefinite continuation of the current hiring freeze, which is expected to reduce staffing by about 2,500 at the Social Security Administration and by 1,000 at the state agencies that do initial review of disability applications. It is quite possible that the hiring freeze will not be sufficient, and furloughs will be required. In either case, the bill will produce longer waits for service at Social Security offices or on the phone and longer delays in decisions on claims.
TRANSPORTATION / HOUSING
• Air Travel: The bill cuts more than $200 million from the Federal Aviation Administration’s capital budget delaying on-going development of technologies to modernize the nation’s air traffic controller system and further deferring maintenance on already aging facilities.
• Railroads and Transit: The bill cancels over $3 billion in high speed rail (51 projects in 22 states) and surface transportation projects (TIGER grants = 76 projects in 40 states) that were awarded with fiscal year 2010 funds. These projects are estimated to have created more than 100,000 new construction jobs. State and local governments dedicated time and resources to submit applications for these programs. The Federal Government spent time and resources evaluating applications. All rendered useless by the action of the House majority.
• Low-Income Housing: Public Housing Capital and Operating funds were cut by $1.2 Billion; this will lead to deferred maintenance and an erosion of our investment in public housing. Currently, there is a deferred maintenance backlog of about $20-30 Billion nationwide.
• Low-Income Housing: HOPE VI (Public Housing Modernization) funds were zeroed out in the bill and $198 million in unobligated FY 10 balances were rescinded.
• Low-Income Housing: Choice Neighborhoods, the Administration’s proposed successor program to HOPE VI, received no funding in the bill.
• Homeless Veterans: The Republican 2011 spending bill would terminate the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program that gives homeless veterans rental vouchers. A recent report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded that there were more than 135,000 homeless veterans – nearly half of whom were living on the street or in abandoned buildings.
• Federal Emergency Management Agency state and local grants: FEMA’s programs to provide assistance to firefighters and other first responders were cut by 30 percent in HR 1. Funding for many of these grants has never been lower. There is no funding for:
o Interoperable communications (-$50 million), a program that provides funding to states, territories, and local and tribal governments to improve emergency communications, including communications for collective response to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.
o Buffer zone protection grants (-$50 million), a program that provides grants to enhance security around critical infrastructure and key assets, including chemical facilities, financial institutions, nuclear and electric power plants, dams, stadiums.
o Regional catastrophic preparedness (-$35 million), a program to enhance catastrophic incident preparedness in selected high-risk, high-consequence urban areas and their surrounding regions.
o Emergency operations centers (-$60 million), which are state and local facilities necessary to ensure continuity of operations and continuity of government in major disasters.
Other grants within FEMA’s State and Local program have been substantially reduced. For example:
o Both port and transit grants are cut 66 percent from the 2010 level (by $200 million each)
o The urban area security grants which fund security in high-risk/high threat cities was reduced by 10 percent (by $87 million)
o State homeland security grants that fund each state’s security needs was cut by 10 percent (by $110 million) when you take into account carveouts that they did in the basic program for new activities for the driver’s license security grants and Citizen Corps that previously received separate grant dollars (by $50 million and $12 million respectively in 2010)
o Over-the road bus security was reduced by 58 percent (by $7 million)
o Security funding to protect the federal infrastructure from cyber attacks is cut by 15 percent below the 2010 level, leaving us vulnerable to the latest cyber intrusions from overseas.
o TSA Surface Transportation Security. HR 1 provides $106 million for surface transportation security; slightly below the 2010 level (by $4million). Such a cut would stop in its tracks any hiring of rail security inspectors and canine teams proposed in 2011 and the possibility of furloughing onboard inspectors and canine teams for a short time in order to keep all the new hires from the 2010 bill.
• Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB): The Republican bill provides no funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and rescinds any unobligated balances from the previously enacted appropriation for FY 2011. The largest portion of this appropriation is used for direct grants to help support the operation of approximately 1,300 local public television and radio stations throughout the country.
• Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): The Republican CR entirely wipes out this institution, which is the nation’s largest grant maker in support of service and volunteering (Americorps, Senior Corps, Learn and Serve) and even leaves it with insufficient funds to shut down its operation. The Corporation engages more than five million Americans in service to their communities – the program participants enable thousands of national and local non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, schools, and municipal agencies to solve tough problems and meet critical local needs.