House Committee Approves Budget Resolution That Proposes Massive Cuts to Domestic Programs

The House Budget Committee approved its FY18 budget and tax reform blueprint on July 19 along a party-line vote. If approved by Congress, the plan would dramatically re-write federal priorities over the next 10 years. The blueprint increases defense spending by nearly $1 trillion, reduces investments in domestic discretionary programs by $1.3 trillion – to its lowest level since before the Great Depression - and calls for more than $4.4 trillion in cuts to mandatory programs like Medicaid and food stamps that ensure basic living standards for low income families. The blueprint fast-tracks the first $200 billion in cuts to help pay for tax cuts that will largely benefit wealthy Americans.

The blueprint directs the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees affordable housing and community development programs, to find at least $14 billion in savings. It offers states the ability to take block grants for Medicaid and to add strict work requirements on Medicaid and food stamp recipients.

During the Committee’s debate of the resolution, Democrats offered several amendments aimed at maintaining or increasing funding for domestic programs. Nearly all of the amendments were rejected along a party-line vote. Ranking Member John Yarmuth (D-KY) introduced an amendment to raise the spending caps required by the Budget Control Act equally for defense and non-defense programs. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) offered an amendment to protect funding for anti-poverty programs.

While the Committee approved the blueprint, it is unclear whether it has enough support to pass on the House floor, let alone in the Senate, where moderate Republicans would likely be reluctant to approve such deep cuts.

The conservative House Republican Study Committee (RSC) released its own FY18 budget proposal, which includes many of the deep cuts to housing programs proposed by President Donald Trump. Like the Trump budget request, the RSC budget proposal would eliminate the HOME Investment Partnerships program, Community Development Block Grants, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP), and the Section 4 Capacity Building program. It would also reduce funding for public housing, asserting that funding the program is “a task that is better left to state and local governments.”

The RSC proposal also suggests linking housing assistance to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits and other welfare assistance programs and imposing work requirements for public housing residents. The RSC claims that the programs as currently structured “encourage broken homes, broken communities, and low self-worth among recipients.”