“Every teacher that will lose a job, every parent who will lose Head Start” needs to call their representatives in Congress, insists Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
Sen. Murray told a cross-section of advocates representing domestic services on Wednesday. Members of Congress are receiving daily calls from defense contractors in their districts who detail how many people will lose jobs if scheduled defense cuts are allowed to take effect in January. A similar outcry from human needs groups is absolutely necessary, Murray said.
Sen. Murray and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sponsored amendments to the farm bill last week that would require the Office of Management and Budget to estimate the impact of cuts on both defense and non-defense domestic discretionary programs. Sen. McCain has been part of a relentless campaign to exempt the Pentagon budget from required spending cuts. Sequestration, requiring automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion in from defense and non-defense discretionary programs, was enacted as part of the deficit deal a year ago. Under the Budget Control Act, cuts totaling $900 billion have already begun to be implemented.
Murray, who said the threat of sequestration was necessary to get the deficit under control because Republicans would not allow revenues to be put on the table, said she feared votes as early as this summer that will get members off the hook by making trade-offs in order to protect defense programs.
“You need to come up with a mantra for us,” she said to the group assembled by the Coalition on Human Needs. “Call about people losing their jobs, people losing their services.”
Workforce development programs have been cut by an estimated 30% in the past two years and would be cut another 20% over the next two years with sequestration. CHN estimates at least 75,000 children will lose Head Start and another 25,000 will lose child care support. Meanwhile, 17,000 elders will lose access to Meals on Wheels and 734,000 households stand to be cut from energy assistance.