WASHINGTON (May 10, 2012) Balancing the needs of a strong national defense, deficit reduction and a strong education system should be a no-brainer for a country with the traditions we have and the values we hold. But earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives broke with our traditions and turned against our values by passing a budget reconciliation bill that would harm millions of American students who are trying to learn their way to a brighter future and earn their way into the middle class.
The Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act (H.R. 5652) proposes to reduce the federal deficit and to increase defense spending by about $8.2 billion more than the level agreed to in last summers Budget Control Act. To pay for this, the bill slashes federal support for public education and other vital programs. These cuts include:
- Slashing Title I support for K-12 public schools, totaling more than a quarter of a billion dollars in the 2013 fiscal year, and an additional $2.8 billion in 2014,
- Eliminating in-school meals for 300,000 low-income children, and
- Steepening the pathway to college by requiring a rewrite of the eligibility rules for the Federal Pell Grant Program. This cut would kick about 400,000 low-income students out of the program during the next school year, and snatch grants from another 1 million college students over the next decade.
Education is not the only area to suffer. The bill also will immediately cut 1.8 million people from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, taking food off the dinner table for an estimated 300,000 hungry children.
These are all choices. The bills sponsors could have chosen other ways to reduce the deficit. Instead, they decided to pick on the most vulnerable among us those without big political action committees or armies of lobbyists behind them while also attacking a crucial pathway to our economic recovery: our public education system. Fortunately, this bill is unlikely to see the light of day in the Senate. But todays action by the House is a chilling reminder of what happens when the federal budget process compromises American traditions and values to favor the wealthy over the weak.
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