When the first short-term funding stopgap was passed two weeks ago to keep the federal government running in the midst of ongoing budget negotiations, we tried to see the positive side: two more weeks for the divided Congress to argue over what and how much to cut meant two more weeks for us to try to convince our representatives to consider the detrimental impact that excessive cuts would have on communities all over the country.
It is March 18. Their two weeks are up. The polarized Congress has yet to reach an agreement, and there is still a $50 billion+ gap between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic Senate and White House that stands in the way of economic certainty for this country.
Rather than deciding on a budget to take us through the end of the fiscal year in September (which should have been taken care of and implemented last October) Congress has settled for yet another stopgap measure. This time, they’ve given themselves three weeks to come up with an answer. This measure, proposed by the House, follows their commitment to cut $2 billion from the budget per week until a permanent funding measure is passed. The resulting $10 billion that has been cut so far keeps the House right on track with their original proposal of immediately cutting $61 billion from the budget this fiscal year.
This bill received much less support than the first. Many Representatives and Senators have said that this is the last short-term continuing resolution that they will vote to support. The options remain the same as before: pass another stopgap measure and keep America waiting, wondering and worrying; reach some kind of compromise that will give us all an answer as to where our elected officials’ priorities lie; or face government shutdown.
“The measure approved Thursday includes $2.1 billion in rescissions of funds that have not been used; $2.5 billion in earmark terminations and $1.1 billion to financial services/general government programs.” Community Action, along with most other programs in the nation, has made it through the second round of cuts, but in no way does that mean we are in the clear. “Discretionary” spending (as it is referred to, though we don’t believe access to food, shelter, economic opportunity and health care for all Americans should be considered optional) which makes up only 14% of the budget has been targeted by the House. We must continue to make our voices heard and encourage our policy makers not to “balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.”
We’ve got at least three more weeks of this tiresome waiting game, so let’s make the most of it. Join the growing effort to protect the life-changing and life-saving services provided by Community Action Agencies all over the country. Tell your elected officials about the difference Community Action has made in your community. It’s just as easy as ever. Visit our Advocacy page for letter templates and other resources. Subscribe to our blog, Poverty’s Edge. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter. Or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Stay informed. Stay involved. Demand that those who were chosen to represent the American people do just that – represent ALL of the American people.