In January, House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro sent letters to Federal agency heads asking for information about how the agencies would be impacted by the House Republicans’ proposal to cap spending at the FY 2022 funding levels. “The American people and Members of Congress deserve to know the real impact this policy would have on the economy, their neighborhoods, and other essential government functions that keep people healthy and safe,” DeLauro stated.

On March 20th, 2023, Representative DeLauro posted the responses she received to her request. The agency heads used the opportunity to praise the Biden Administration’s investment in human and social services, as well as point out the impact of returning to FY 2022 funding or implementing a 22% cut, as would be the case if Defense funding is kept level amidst overall cuts.

In her statement along with the release of the response letters, Representative DeLauro says, “[t]hose that seek to cut essential programs by at least 22 percent—and those that are pushing even more drastic cuts of 30 percent or more—would cause irreparable damage to our communities by gutting the programs every single American relies on. Those proposals are unrealistic, unsustainable, and unconscionable.”

According to the letter from the Department of Health and Human Services, Secretary Xavier Becerra outlined some of the potential impacts of returning to FY 2022 funding levels, including:

  • Elimination of at least 170,000 Head Start slots for children
  • 105,000 child care slots would be eliminated, from a baseline of 1,843,000 in FY 2023.
  • Start reductions in service capacity for both mental health and substance abuse services, including fewer contacts for the new 9-8-8 crisis hotline.
  • Impaired processing for millions of statutorily required eligibility determinations for Medicaid.
  • 400,000 people would lose meals they depend on through the Nutrition Services program.

Letters from other Secretaries indicate that there would be significant losses in other programs and services necessary to families:

  • Nearly 250,000 monthly participants would not receive WIC benefits
  • Loss of funding for 350,000 Housing Choice Vouchers and significant loss of affordable housing.
  • Potentially removing more than 13,000 teachers and service providers from classrooms serving low-income children.
  • Reduction of critical support to States and localities in their efforts to reform juvenile justice and strengthen prevention, early intervention, and treatment programming for youth who are at-risk.

These responses came just one day before news outlets reported that House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) was doubling down on the goal of setting spending caps for FY2024 at FY2022 levels, although no further details regarding defense and non-defense top line goals were reported out of the House GOP conference in Orlando, Florida.

The House deadline for Members to submit their requests to the Appropriations Committee was this past Friday, March 24th. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s deadline for requests is April 17th. From there, it will be up to the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs and Ranking Members, dubbed the “Four Corners,” to negotiate top-line spending numbers for next year’s budget, a difficult task in a closely divided Congress.