Civil Rights Group Identifies Essential Programs Facing Severe Cuts in House Budget Bill
March 8, 2011 - Posted by Ron Bigler
In a letter to U.S. senators urging them to oppose House Resolution 1 (H.R. 1), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is raising concerns about proposed budget cuts to programs serving the needs of the most vulnerable Americans.
"H.R.1 makes cuts that are extreme and irresponsible, slashing or eliminating many services that are needed by communities represented by The Leadership Conference, including vulnerable and low-income people such as young children, students, older people, the jobless, and the uninsured," write Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, and Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference.
Henderson and Zirkin argue that the federal budget cuts in H.R. 1 — which appear to be ideologically driven — are overly focused on spending and fail to address revenue shortfalls caused by tax breaks for oil and gas companies and the wealthiest Americans.
The letter outlines seven areas of concern:
Head Start: H.R. 1 cuts more than $1 billion from the Head Start program, which provides comprehensive early childhood services – education, nutrition, health, social, and emotional development – to nearly one million low-income children and their families. This cut would eliminate these vital services for about 218,000 children and their families next year.
Pell Grants: H.R. 1 reduces the maximum annual Pell Grant award by $845 to $4,705, a 15 percent cut below the current maximum of $5,550. This would have a devastating impact on the roughly 8 million needy students that qualify for the maximum award, nearly 90 percent of whom come from families making less than $40,000 a year.
Consumer Protection: H.R. 1 reduces the newly-formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) funding – which, in this case, is not a Congressional appropriation – from $143 million to $80 million. The cut will hamstring the CFPB’s ability to enforce the consumer protection laws that were largely ignored by existing regulators in the years before the mortgage and financial crisis.
"Gainful Employment" Rule: H.R. 1 blocks the Department of Education from issuing or enforcing its proposed “gainful employment” rule, eliminating accountability for career colleges that educate 10 percent of higher education students, receive approximately 24 percent of federal grants and loans, and account for 48 percent of defaults.
Repeal of Open Internet Rules: H.R. 1 repeals the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet rules, including those that prevent the private blocking of constitutionally protected speech. This causes significant harm, particularly to the constituencies represented by our member organizations, and diverts attention from other critical media and telecommunications issues that are so vital to our nation’s economic and civic life.
Health Services for Women and Girls: H.R. 1 prohibits any federal funding from being made available to Planned Parenthood Foundation of America, Inc. (PPFA), or any of its affiliates, for any health care services whatsoever for women and girls. This ideologically-driven attack on PPFA is unnecessary, as existing law already prohibits federal funding from being used to pay for abortions and will instead wipe out a range of other vital health care services.
- Equal Access to Justice Fees: H.R. 1 prohibits any federal funds from being distributed under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). This will deprive people – including seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, small business owners and farmers – who cannot afford a lawyer from being represented against the federal government, when the government acts illegally against them.
For a more comprehensive look at the impact of the budget cuts contained in H.R.1, see the Half in Ten campaign's analysis in "Deficit Reduction on the Backs of the Most Vulnerable."