Friday, March 17, 2017

Cleaver: Trump budget is a nervous breakdown on paper

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

Yesterday, President Donald Trump released his FY 2018 budget recommendations. Though the power to spend and appropriate lies squarely with Congress, every year the President offers a budget proposal. This year’s budget proposal left me astounded. Surely something with such blatant disregard for our most vulnerable citizens could not, should not, and will not pass in Congress.

President Trump’s cuts to several departments are simply put - harmful. This budget hurts working families, veterans, and especially low-income families and elderly citizens. Programs that our children and seniors rely on are now seen as burdensome and ineffective. How can that be?

Programs that provide affordable housing, meals for the poor, formula for infants are crucial to our community yet have been cut or fully eliminated.

I told a reporter this week, when I looked at the budget it was a “nervous break-down on paper,” and I meant every word of that. Everything that our office has been working on and pushing for was on the chopping block.

Under the President’s proposal, HUD funding will be cut by $6 billion dollars and EPA funding will be cut by 31 percent. What will happen to our environment or to the people who need housing services? For example, in Missouri, citizens in the LIHEAP, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, received over $73 million in 2016. This funding is critical to helping poor families afford heat and power to their homes. Veterans make up nearly 20 percent of all LIHEAP recipients. During the hottest and coldest months, energy bills can cost up to 30 percent of a low-income person’s monthly income. The program is continually oversubscribed, and there are about 1.3 million additional households across the country that have not received funding who are eligible for the program. But with this budget, programs like these would be entirely eliminated.
The Community Development Block Grant program would be eliminated under President Trump’s cuts. This would be detrimental to the development and infrastructure in both urban and rural areas.

President Trump’s proposal to cut education by $9 billion is extreme. Public schools will see a loss in qualified teachers and training. Students struggling for affordable college will see a $4 billion cut to Pell grants.

I want you to know, I cannot support this budget. I’ve always believed that the budget is a moral document – one that reflects our values as a nation. This budget does just the opposite. I will remain committed to making sure that working citizens and working families, low-income individuals, struggling students, veterans, and rural families are protected.

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