Policy Priorities

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Budget Watch: This Week...

April 13, 2011

Congress Reaches Agreement for FY2011 Budget

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee released details of the agreement reached late Friday evening to fund the government for the remainder of FY2011, averting a government shutdown. The final agreement makes $38.5 billion in cuts, on top of the $10 billion in cuts already enacted, and is expected to pass the House and Senate this week before the two week Easter recess. Of the $38.5 billion in overall cuts, about $20 billion would come from domestic discretionary programs, while $17.8 billion would be cut from mandatory programs.

The good news is that as a result of this agreement and thanks to the efforts of so many child advocates, the draconian proposals offered by the same House committee in February were not agreed to. The agreement ensures that 218,000 children will not lose Head Start, instead the program will see an increase in funding. Schools educating the poorest and most vulnerable children will not lose Title 1 Funding. Although Pell Grants will see reductions in funding, it will not be the drastic 15 percent proposed by H.R. 1, and the nation’s 1,100 Community Health Centers will not close. Additionally, the Race to the Top Education program will actually see an additional investment of $700 million. However, the bad news is that the agreement also cut $3.5 billion from grants to states that make an extra effort to enroll children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and there will be cuts for programs that serve children in the juvenile justice system.

Our attention now turns to the FY 2012 Budget Resolution, introduced earlier this month by House Budget Chairman Ryan. The proposal is a full scale assault on children and low income families, cutting lifelines and dismantling protections from cradle to college. We expect it to reach the House floor for a vote tomorrow. With legislators at home for the Easter recess over the next two weeks, there are terrific opportunities for advocates to meet face-to-face with their elected officials to demand that children and the poor are held harmless as Congress discusses further spending cuts in budget and debt limit negotiations.

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