GOP budget bill takes aim at food assistance programs

african kings

Congressional leaders in the House passed H.R. 5262, the GOP’s budget reconciliation bill, with a 218-199 vote yesterday. The bill aims to slash $300 million from the 2013 budget by implementing drastic cuts in assistance programs that would disproportionately impact African-American families and senior citizens. Some of the most drastic cuts are aimed at food assistance programs like SNAP and Meals on Wheels.

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland asked GOP leaders in a floor statement to reconsider some of the cuts proposed in the current budget bill, arguing that the Congressional Budget Office agrees with him that the proposed cuts — which Republicans argue are in place to cut “waste, fraud and abuse” — are not directed at the right programs.

“While we must address our deficits and emergency sequestration, the Republican reconciliation bill does it absolutely the wrong way….It harms seniors and children by eliminating Social Services Block Grants, which provide for programs for our communities like Child Protection Services and Meals on Wheels,” a statement from Hoyer’s office reads. “They say they are getting rid of waste, fraud, and abuse; I have heard that for 31 years, while they added $6.4 trillion to the deficit. It slashes food stamp funding by $33.2 billion. They say that’s waste, fraud, and abuse. CBO does not agree. It’s real assistance to families in need.”

Hoyer’s office released an outline of which programs would be most severely cut under the newly passed budget reconciliation bill.

Slashes food assistance by $35.8 billion – reducing food stamps to all recipients and cutting access to SNAP to nearly two million people at a time when families can least afford it.

Permanently eliminates the Social Services Block Grant program, which provides assistance for roughly 23 million Americans, including:

Child care and related assistance for 4.4 million children,

“Meals on Wheels” and other home-based services for nearly 1.7 million older Americans,

Child protective services for 1.8 million at-risk children,

Transportation, respite care and other services for nearly 1 million disabled individuals.

Politicizes the process of funding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an office created to protect consumers from predatory practices that contributed to the financial crisis.

Eliminates the Medicaid and CHIP Maintenance-of-Effort (MOE) requirement included as part of the Affordable Care Act, putting 300,000 children at risk of losing health insurance coverage, according to CBO.

Cuts the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provided 61 communities and states with funding in fiscal year 2011 to implement health and wellness programs and benefited approximately 120 million Americans, according to HHS.

These budget cuts will be implemented in the 2013 fiscal year if the Republican budget passes the Senate.

Follow Caryn Freeman on Twitter at @CarynFreemanDC