WASHINGTON. Federal departments and agencies say plans by Republicans in the US House of Representatives to cut federal spending will cut key programs such as food aid, education aid and wildfire control.
A series of letters from across the federal government released on Monday detailed how plans to cut domestic spending by at least $130 billion in the coming fiscal year could affect people’s daily lives.
“The draconian cuts will take 80,000 people out of college and affect all of the 6.6 million students who rely on Pell grants,” said senior Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who requested the letters. “If implemented, 200,000 children will lose access to the Head Start program and 100,000 children will lose access to child care services, undermining early education opportunities and parents’ ability to go to work.”
“As if that weren’t enough to contain these harmful cuts, 1.2 million women, babies and children would be deprived of the life-saving nutritional assistance they receive through WIC,” DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, added, referring to the Special Program. supplementary nutrition for women, babies. and Children, which provides grants to states.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, has promised conservatives in his party that he will cut spending in the upcoming fiscal year, which is due to begin October 1, to the level of the previous year. The promise was one of many that McCarthy made to the Republicans to become Speaker.
Many senior Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have said they will not touch Social Security, Medicare or defense spending, leaving domestic spending, Medicaid and food assistance for low-income people on the list of potential spending cuts.
While the Democratic Senate and President Joe Biden will have to sign any changes, Republicans in the House of Representatives are pushing for strict limits on spending levels in exchange for a solution to the problem of limiting debt.
These spending cuts, according to letters from cabinet secretaries and agency heads, could impact dozens of federal programs and the quality of life for many Americans.
Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack wrote, “While Congressional Republicans have not unveiled a specific plan, the cuts on the proposed scale will have a very real and devastating impact on our families, our communities, our economy, and our competitiveness by undermining a wide range of critical services, that Americans rely on in their daily lives, such as food and nutrition security, protecting lives and property from catastrophic wildfires, food security, and more.”
Welfare Administration Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi wrote that if spending returns to FY 2022 levels, the agency may have to close field offices, cut hours, lay off about 6,000 employees and impose a hiring moratorium.
“Reductions of this magnitude will drastically undermine our ability to function effectively,” Kijakazi wrote.
“This will reduce in-person access to our field offices, increase waiting times for initial processing of disability and retirement applications, lengthen phone wait times, prohibit the development of online tools to compensate for the difficulty of reaching us by phone. and personally, and to create reserves in all areas,” Kijakazi added.
Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg wrote that spending cuts would likely “require the layoff of essential security personnel, including air traffic controllers and safety inspectors, and may also require a reduction in staffing (RIF)”.
“Under this scenario, security will be undermined for years to come by cuts in vehicle, rail, pipeline and aviation safety checks, limiting our research programs in those programs, and significant damage to our transportation operations,” Buttigieg wrote.
Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland wrote that spending cuts could undermine wildfire management, disrupt services and safety in national parks, impact drought mitigation efforts, cut support for tribal peoples, and reduce energy and mineral extraction.
“Visitors to national parks will feel the impact of funding cuts in parks across the country,” Haaland wrote.
“Parks will need to reduce opening hours, close visitor centers, reduce trash and site cleanups, and ranger-led programs,” she added. “The need to reduce services such as snow removal will affect decisions, including whether to keep access to parks like Yosemite National Park, which received more than 336,000 visitors this winter despite record snow levels, during the winter.”
GOP budget resolution
Republicans in the House of Representatives have yet to release a budget resolution for the upcoming fiscal year, although they will likely do so this spring.
This tax and spending plan will provide a first look at how much the Republican Party wants the federal government to spend on defense and non-military discretionary programs during fiscal year 2024.
The Republican House will then draft a dozen annual appropriation bills for this fiscal year, detailing how much money the party wants to spend on each department and agency, which falls into a discretionary budget of roughly $1.7 trillion.
Republicans in the House of Representatives will need to successfully negotiate these bills with the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Biden administration if they have any hope of becoming law.
Senate leaders, who will also push their own appropriation bills through this House, are approaching the upcoming appropriations process differently than their House counterparts.
Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray, chair of the appropriations committee, and Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the appropriations committee, issued several joint statements this year proclaiming bipartisanship.
“Now that the president has unveiled his budget, we continue to work on writing our nation’s spending bills as quickly as possible,” they said earlier this month. “We have a real opportunity – and an important responsibility – to work together to make our country safer, more competitive and benefit the people we all represent at home. The power of the wallet belongs to Congress, and we take that responsibility seriously.”
In the event that the two houses fail to reach a bipartisan spending agreement by October, they could pass a temporary spending bill, known as a running resolution, that extends current funding levels by several months, or they could begin a partial government shutdown.