Congressional Republicans’ Legislation: 22% Cuts That Would Harm American Families, Seniors and Veterans
By Shalanda Young, Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Yesterday, Speaker McCarthy and Congressional Republicans doubled down on threatening default in order to extract a wish list of extreme, unrelated policies that will hurt hard-working families. The legislation Congressional Republicans have drafted is designed to avoid leveling with the American people about how these cuts would impact their lives. So I want to be very clear about exactly what this plan would mean for families and communities across the country.
The legislation Congressional Republicans introduced sets overall appropriations for Fiscal Year 2024 at the same level as FY 2022. At this level, all appropriated funding—including both defense and domestic programs—would be cut deeply. However, Congressional Republicans have indicated that they are not willing to cut defense funding at all, which means that everything else in annual appropriations—from cancer research, to education, to veterans’ health care—would be cut by much more.
The math is simple, but unforgiving. At their proposed topline funding level—and with defense funding left untouched as Republicans have proposed—everything else is forced to suffer enormous cuts. In fact, their bill would force a cut of 22 percent—cuts that would grow deeper and deeper with each year of their plan.
What would that mean for the American people just in the first year of their plan? Consider just a few examples:
- Undermine Medical Care for Veterans: Cutting funding by 22 percent would mean 30 million fewer veteran outpatient visits, and 81,000 jobs lost across the Veterans Health Administration—leaving veterans unable to get appointments for care including wellness visits, cancer screenings, mental health services, and substance use disorder treatment.
- Slash Funding for Schools with Low-Income Students and Students with Disabilities: A 22 percent cut would impact 25 million students in schools that teach low-income students and 7.5 million students with disabilities, which could force a reduction of up to 108,000 teachers, aides or other key staff.
- Eliminate Preschool and Child Care for Hundreds of Thousands of Children: A 22 percent cut would mean 200,000 children lose access to Head Start slots and another 180,000 children lose access to child care—undermining our children’s education and making it more difficult for parents to join the workforce and contribute to our economy.
- Strip Nutrition Assistance from Millions of Women, Infants, and Children: A 22 percent cut would mean 1.7 million women, infants, and children would lose vital nutrition assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), significantly increasing child poverty and hunger.
- Rob Seniors of Healthy Meals: A 22 percent cut would take away nutrition services, such as Meals on Wheels, from more than 1 million seniors. For many of these seniors, these programs provide the only healthy meal they receive on any given day.
- Raise Housing Costs for Hundreds of Thousands: A 22 percent cut would eliminate funding for Housing Choice Vouchers for over 630,000 households, including 190,000 households headed by seniors and 50,000 veterans.
- Scale Back Rail Safety Inspections: A 22 percent cut would result in 7,000 fewer rail safety inspection days next year alone, and 30,000 fewer miles of track inspected annually—enough track to cross the United States nearly 10 times.
These are just a few examples—the list goes on and on. A 22 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health would delay cancer and Alzheimer’s research. A 22 percent cut to the Army Corps of Engineers would affect key water resources projects all over the country. A 22 percent cut to the Department of Homeland Security would undermine border management and drug interdiction. And under their bill, these cuts would get even deeper over time. There is no escaping the pain to working families and our economic future: if they seek to protect any area from cuts, it only means more harmful cuts to all of the other painful impacts listed above.
Beyond these impacts, this bill would also hold our economy hostage to even more cuts that would undermine our recovery and harm hard-working families, seniors, and students. It would repeal tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act that are leading to hundreds of billions of dollars in private sector investment in the United States and thousands of jobs. It would put food assistance at risk for many older Americans, cut Medicaid by introducing bureaucratic work reporting requirements that state experiences show would cause millions of people to lose coverage—including working people and people with disabilities—without increasing employment, and deepen hardship for some of the nation’s most vulnerable children. It would eliminate President Biden’s student debt relief plan, taking away breathing room for 26 million Americans who have already applied or are automatically eligible. And it would increase energy bills for families, while also increasing pollution.
This bill is vague by design—but that doesn’t obscure the fact that it will force devastating cuts that will hurt millions of people, damage our economy, and undermine our national security. That approach stands in stark contrast to the President’s Budget, which invests in the American people, grows the economy from the middle out and bottom up, and reduces the deficit by nearly $3 trillion by asking the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share.
 The legislation proposed by Congressional Republicans would set the FY2024 topline at $1.471 trillion, equal to the FY 2022 level. Under the assumption that funding for defense in FY 2024 will at least match the baseline level of $885 billion, non-defense funding would total $586 billion, which is 22 percent lower than the currently enacted level of $756 billion.