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March 14, 2005
Action Needed--Support the Smith-Bingaman Amendment
Early this week, the U.S. Senate will be voting on the FY 2006 Budget Resolution. As approved by the Senate Budget Committee last week, the Resolution contains directions to cut overall federal spending on entitlement programs by $32 billion over five years. There are also specific directions to the Senate Finance Committee to pass legislation by June 6th to reduce $15 billion in federal spending marked for entitlement programs under its jurisdiction.
Since budget resolutions do not specify exactly which programs would suffer cuts, it would be up to the Senate Finance Committee to find the $15 billion in savings in programs under its jurisdiction. Foster care, adoption assistance and Medicaid all fall under the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee.
Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) plan to introduce an amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution that would eliminate the Finance Committee directions to make these cuts. This amendment (if included in the final Senate and House approved Budget Resolution) would ensure that federal funding for foster care and adoption assistance is not cut through this budget process.
It is crucial for the Senate to reject these cuts. Your U.S. Senators need to hear from you now to support the Smith/Bingaman amendment.
- Call your two U.S. Senators now and tell them to support the Smith-Bingaman amendment to the Budget Resolution.
- You can call your Senator in Washington, DC by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121. On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15 and 16th you can also call your Senators using this toll-free number: 1-800-247-2971.
- Tell your two U.S. Senators to support the Smith-Bingaman amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution in order to protect Foster Care and Adoption Assistance from cuts.
Last week, both the Senate and House Budget Committees approved their own versions of a FY 2006 Budget Resolution. The committee-approved budget is currently on both floors of Congress and a full member vote is expected within the next few days.
This annual budget resolution serves as a blueprint that sets limits on total federal spending. To meet the reduced federal spending targets outlined in the President's budget proposal, Congress is using this budget resolution process to issue budget reconciliation directions to various congressional committees to pass legislation that reduces federal spending on entitlement programs.
Since budget resolutions do not specify exactly which programs would suffer cuts, under the Budget Resolution approved by the Senate Committee, it would be up to the Senate Finance Committee to pass legislation cutting $15 billion from any programs under its jurisdiction. Under the bill passed by the House Budget Committee, it would be up to the House Ways and Means Committee to cut $15 billion in programs including Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, foster care, adoption assistance, TANF, child care and the Social Services Block Grant.
If the Committees will be forced to reduce spending, it is anticipated that the majority of the cuts would come from Medicaid, but the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees could use these directions to cap or block grant any program under their jurisdiction including Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance.
Passing the Smith-Bingaman amendment would ensure that the Senate-passed Budget Resolution would not require cuts to foster care and adoption assistance, but this is only the first step. If the House adopts their Budget Resolution, with directions to make these cuts, then the next step is to ensure that the final Budget Resolution agreed to by both the Senate and the House does not contain the directions to make these cuts.
Find out how much your state could lose in federal assistance for foster care and adoption assistance if these cuts are made.
For more information go to CWLA's No Caps on Kids! Campaign website at www.cwla.org. or contact Liz Meitner, CWLA Vice-President of Government Affairs, at email@example.com or 202-942-0257.
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