Skip to content

Just hours from the President’s State of the Union address, the House of Representatives passed H. Res. 38, a resolution that states that federal fiscal year spending for 2011 would be set to 2008 levels or less. Yesterday, in his weekly meeting with reporters, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) commented on the legislation: “We committed prior to the election that we would reduce discretionary spending to ’08 levels. If the will of the House is such, if there are 218 votes to deliver on ‘06 levels, then so be it.”

There is no disputing that we have some tough decisions ahead when it comes to reducing the deficit. And, we can all agree, that no one wants wasteful spending. No one. But, has the House Republican majority really considered the ramifications of this type of across-the-board spending cuts, especially when it comes to our children and working families? Although today’s bill is mostly political grandstanding, there’s still a very clear message being sent: cuts to spending are more important than the consequences to American families.

Just what do these potential spending cuts mean kids and families? One third of federal spending on children is discretionary spending. This includes funding for vital programs like Child Abuse Prevention, Head Start, IDEA, Housing Assistance, among many others. Today’s symbolic vote was to cut discretionary spending to at least fiscal year 2008 levels. Returning spending back to fiscal year 2008 levels, along with the fact that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) money is expiring, will result in a cut of almost $28 billion, which would equal over a 21 percent decrease to kid’s non-defense discretionary spending when compared to last year’s funding levels.

Additionally, if we’re to factor in the Majority Leader’s recent statement, and there is “will” in the House to cut spending even further, non-defense discretionary spending could be reduced to 2006 levels. Returning spending to 2006 levels, coupled with the fact that ARRA money is expiring, will result in a cut of almost $32 billion, equaling over a 25 percent decrease to kid’s non-defense discretionary spending compared to last year’s funding levels. There’s a lot of percentages and dollars here, but the fact remains that ARRA money and current discretionary spending levels have substantially subdued the effects of our current recession for many American families. These are dollars that feed hungry children. These are dollars that allow kids to see a doctor. These are the dollars that prevented families from homelessness and gave parents a job during the worst economic times since the Great Depression.

Although today’s vote was disappointing, we hope that the true “will of the House” is to stand behind the future of our country, supporting not only what’s fiscally responsible, but what’s best for our children.

For more information on children in the federal budget: