The League joined more than 1,500 groups on a letter that calls on Congress to pass a budget that adequately meets the needs of all people and communities. Letter encourages investments in public education, affordable housing, health and nutrition, public transit, roads and bridges, clean air, clean water, clean energy, child care, and other means of making investments in communities that also create good jobs.


July 11, 2017

Dear Representative/Senator:

As Congress begins its work on the FY 2018 budget, we are writing to urge you to ensure that funding is adequate to meet the needs of all people and communities. The undersigned are organizations from across the nation representing millions of Americans, including faith groups, human service providers, labor and civil rights organizations, and advocates and policy experts concerned with improving our nation’s health, protecting our environment, supporting families, reducing poverty and hunger, strengthening our communities, and investing in economic growth and prosperity for all our people.

Our message to you is clear: there is no way to keep the promise of prosperity for all Americans, including families with children, women, seniors, people with disabilities, communities of color, and others who are being left behind in the 21st century economy, without significantly increasing investments in public education, affordable housing, health and nutrition, public transit, roads and bridges, clean air, clean water, clean energy, child care, and other means of making investments in communities that also create good jobs. Rather than meeting these goals, President Trump’s FY 2018 budget, however, proposes harsh reductions in all these areas, cutting domestic and international discretionary (NDD) programs $54 billion below the current law’s sequester cap and transferring those funds to the Pentagon.

Some of the most egregious examples of the pain that would be caused by the Trump budget cuts include:

  • Denying medical care to well over 23 million people because the budget not only incorporates the House’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act but slashes Medicaid even more deeply, inflicting a 47 percent cut ($1.6 trillion) in Medicaid through 2027;
  • Ending the federal commitment to provide a minimum basic food benefit through SNAP/food stamps, by shifting 25 percent of the cost to states and allowing states to cut benefits in order to avoid those costs; also denies eligibility or benefits to millions of people, including seniors, people with disabilities, and jobless individuals without dependents;
  • Breaking the promise not to cut Social Security by slashing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a $72 billion cut in programs for people with disabilities and seniors over 10 years;
  • Eliminating rental assistance for 250,000 families, placing them at imminent risk of homelessness;
  • Terminating 1.8 million children from afterschool and summer programs by eliminating the 21st Century Community Learning Centers;
  • Cutting the Environmental Protection Agency 31%, eliminating one-quarter of its 15,000 staff, and including massive cuts to grants that enable states to protect public health, including monitoring the safety of public water systems.

Rather than budget cuts, we urge you to support a budget that is an engine for economic progress. It must provide enough funding for jobs and infrastructure programs, with targeted help for low-income communities and struggling individuals, including immigrants seeking a better life. A good budget will direct funds to job creation, not more incarceration; and ensure funding for programs that alleviate poverty, targeting funds to reduce disproportionate poverty among people of color, especially children.

All Americans deserve the security of being able to sustain basic living standards. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), unemployment insurance, and refundable tax credits for low-income people are essential programs that should be protected and improved, not cut. We urge you to reject structural limits to these programs such as block grants or per capita caps, and to oppose restrictions in eligibility or benefits that deny assistance to people in need and only worsen barriers to stable employment.

Our national security depends on adequate funding to reduce the threats of hunger or homelessness and to increase access to health care. Our security also depends on making sure that seniors can afford to retire without fear of inadequate food, health care, or heat for their homes. We are more secure when all our people can contribute to and benefit from our economy, including people with disabilities, and no matter our race, ethnicity, gender, or immigrant status. Our workers and their families need enforcement of labor law protections as well as family and medical leave and affordable, quality child care, so that they can be secure in their work/family balance. Deportation of immigrants and refugees separates children from parents and undermines the security of all by forcing some of our neighbors underground, fearing to seek protection from local authorities. We are safer when our international humanitarian and development assistance prevents desperate hunger or disease in other nations. Our security requires safety from epidemics, a toxic environment, or tainted food or medicine. 

It is necessary, but not sufficient, to reject the extreme cuts in the Trump budget. FY 2017 funding shows the harm that comes from years of flat or reduced funding due to tight caps. Out of 168 program areas serving low-income people tracked by the Coalition on Human Needs, 135 were cut from FY’s 2010 –2017, taking inflation into account; 54 were cut by more than 25 percent. We must do better. At minimum, Congress must undo the unrealistic sequester cap on NDD programs and maintain the bipartisan commitment to parity in funding beyond the caps, matching any defense increase with the same amount for NDD programs. Further, cutting domestic programs to fund increases in military spending or tax cuts is wholly unacceptable. On the contrary, investments should increase to meet our nation’s huge and growing unmet needs.

A responsible budget requires an increase in revenues from fair sources to fund needed investments. The President’s call for more than $5.5 trillion in tax reductions overwhelmingly benefits profitable corporations and wealthy individuals. The President’s tax plan is not responsible, and its promise of unprecedented economic growth is not credible. We also strongly urge you to reject the inclusion of reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution intended to force cuts and restrictions in programs that support basic living standards and instructions that would expedite unfair tax breaks for wealthy individuals and profitable corporations.

We also urge you to reject controversial ideological policy riders that threaten to stall the budget process, potentially preventing states and localities from receiving federal resources in a timely manner. Policy provisions of great consequence to workers, retirees, consumers, and the environment should receive thorough consideration by authorizing committees and not be slipped into spending bills. Congress must produce a budget that moves us towards more opportunity for all, that safeguards and advances our basic living standards, and that protects our environment. 

Below are links to state-specific versions of the letter for the following states, followed by the national and group signers (listed for all 50 states after the national-scope groups): Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia.

 

Sincerely,

See Attached for full list of signers