The House Budget Committee releases its budget proposal for FY 2016, cutting spending by at least $5 trillion over 10 years and slashing funding for programs critical to children and youth serving organizations.
Committee Chairman Tom Price’s (R-GA) spending blueprint leaves sequestration caps in place for FY2016, but it increases Pentagon spending by upping the defense expenditures in the uncapped Overseas Contingency Operations account to $90 billion.
The budget slashes critical children and youth programs by $759 billion below the already-low sequester caps over 10 years starting in FY 2017. The Obama Administration has estimated that if these cuts were applied proportionately across domestic discretionary programs, they would result in 35,000 fewer children in Head Start; $1.2 billion less spent in Title I education funding for low-income K-12 schools (equal to eliminating the jobs of 17,000 teachers and aides); $347 million cut from special education (IDEA) funding (equal to cutting out 6,000 special ed teachers and other staff); and 133,000 fewer low-income families receiving rental housing vouchers.
Mandatory Spending Programs
The budget ‘unifies’ Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and turns them into a block grant (called “state flexibility funds”). SNAP/food stamps is also converted to a block grant starting in FY 2021. Block grants make it easier to cut these programs without saying how many people would be dropped or how their benefits would be cut, since that would be left to states, forced to operate programs with less money.
Medicaid would be cut by $913 billion over 10 years, while SNAP/food stamps would be cut $125 billion. It turns Medicare into a voucher program starting in FY 2024 and cuts Medicare funding by $148 billion over 10 years. It also cuts unspecified “Other Mandatory” programs by $1.1 trillion over 10 years. In particular, it would freeze the maximum Pell Grant award, rescinds work requirement waivers in TANF, and takes money away from Americans who qualify for both disability insurance and unemployment insurance.
The budget includes reconciliation instructions to 13 House committees, which requires these committees to come back with legislation that would produce savings (usually by cutting spending in programs under their jurisdictions) for at least the amount specified in the instructions. The required savings varies by committee. The committees are also instructed to search for ways to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The committees would have until July 15 to submit such proposed legislation to the House Budget Committee. These requirements are only binding if the House and Senate agree on a joint budget resolution.
Reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered in the Senate and therefore only need 51 votes to pass. In addition, unlike the budget resolution itself, bills drafted as a result of reconciliation instructions have to be signed into law by the president and therefore are subject to a possible veto.