On Saturday morning, the House of Representatives approved the Republican leadership’s proposed budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 which ends on September 30. I could not have been more opposed. This budget calls for drastic, irresponsible and harmful cuts that will affect all Americans, cause jobs to be lost and fails to invest in our nation’s future.
My Democratic colleagues and I took to the House floor to argue against the harmful cuts included in this bill, from defunding crucial education programs like Head Start to blocking the EPA from ensuring we have clean water to drink and air to breathe.
Predictably, Republican leaders went after programs that help those who are hurting the most, including nutrition assistance for expectant mothers, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), and a program providing vouchers for homeless veterans. The legislation also cuts programs that protect public safety such as FEMA State and Local programs and USDA food safety inspections.
The $100 billion in spending cuts were included to appease an extreme wing of the Republican Party. Not only will these severe cuts hurt families across the country, the Economic Policy Institute has reported as many as 800,000 public and private sector employees could lose their jobs as a result of it. At a time when our economy is beginning to show signs of recovery, severe job losses would undermine the progress we have made.
In Virginia, Pell Grants would be cut by nearly $700 per student, Special Education funding would be cut by roughly $17 million, resulting in an estimated 212 special education teachers and staff job losses, and K-12 Title I funding cuts would reduce extra academic support for an estimated 15,000 low-income students.
Northern Virginia would be harmed specifically with:
• More than $588 million cut in federal agency salaries and expenses
• Elimination of $150 million in annual federal funding for Metro
• Cuts to Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and an amendment to prevent the EPA from overseeing restoration of the Bay
• 14% cut in national Head Start funds that could affect the more than 500 local Head Start children and families
It could not be more clear that this irresponsible budget fails to invest in our nation and would threaten our economy’s path to recovery. We need to balance our budget, but not on the backs of average Americans in a way that shortchanges everyone’s future.
I will continue to fight tooth and nail for a responsible budget, one that provides funding for programs that make us stronger, cuts those that don’t, and makes reforms that will put our fiscal house in order for the long run.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.