After House Republicans unveiled their first batch of Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2024, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, is calling attention to the devastating impacts their proposed budget cuts would have for Maine. Taking into account the bills put forward so far and House Republicans’ commitment to protect defense spending, we could see cuts of at least 30 percent across programs supporting education, research, public safety, public health, and other areas.
“Speaker McCarthy and his right flank are masquerading as ‘fiscally responsible’, but if that were truly the case, they would propose uniform cuts across the board to rein in spending. Instead, they are cherry-picking what funding to preserve and what to slash to further their extremist agenda,” said Pingree. “Let me be clear: House Democrats see through Republicans’ scheme and will not allow them to roll back the progress we’ve made under President Biden. From rail safety and child care to social security and education—the impacts of these cuts will have on daily life in Maine and across the country and serious and they are devastating.”
House Republicans’ draconian appropriations bills would mean $350 million fewer federal grant dollars invested in Maine, including cuts that would:
- Cut 40 Rail Safety Inspections in Maine. At a time when train derailments are wreaking havoc on community safety, House Republicans’ Default on America Act would lead to 40 fewer rail safety inspection days and 400 fewer miles of track inspected in Maine next year alone. Since the Norfolk Southern train derailment, bipartisan Senators have called for more rail inspections, not fewer.
- Eliminate 1,900 Preschool and Child Care Slots in Maine. The Default on America Act would mean 1,100 children in Maine lose access to Head Start slots and 800 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.
- Raise Housing Costs for 4,000 Mainers. Under the Default on America Act, 4,000 families in Maine would lose access to rental assistance, including older adults, persons with disabilities, and families with children, who without rental assistance would be at risk of homelessness. The House Republican Default on America Act would also mean as many as 180 families across Maine who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or attempting to flee domestic violence would lose access to emergency housing vouchers.
- Worsen Social Security and Medicare Assistance Wait Times for 384,000 Maine Seniors. Under the House Republicans’ Default on America Act, people applying for disability benefits would have to wait at least two months longer for a decision. With fewer staff available, 384,000 seniors and people with disabilities in Maine would be forced to endure longer wait times when they call for assistance for both Social Security and Medicare.
- Deny 160 Mainers Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. The Default on America Act would deny access to opioid use disorder treatment for more than 160 people in Maine through the State Opioid Response grant program—denying them a potentially life-saving path to recovery.
- Gut Funding for Low-Income Students. The Default on America Act would cut approximately $19 million in funding for schools serving low-income children—equivalent to removing nearly 200 teachers and specialized instructional support personnel from classrooms, impacting an estimated 50,000 students.
- Cut Support for Students with Disabilities. Under the Default on America Act, as many as 30,000 children in Maine with disabilities would face reduced supports—a cut in IDEA funding equivalent to removing approximately 200 teachers and related services providers from the classroom.
- Make College More Expensive for 22,300 Mainers. The Default on America Act would reduce the maximum award for Pell Grants by $1,400, likely eliminating it altogether for 400 students in Maine, while making it harder for the remaining 21,900 recipients to attend and afford college.
- Deny 4,000 Mainers Access to Workforce Development Services. The Default on America Act would result in 4,000 fewer Mainers receiving job training and employment services provided through the Department of Labor’s workforce development funding. These harmful cuts would deprive businesses of the skilled workforce they need to thrive, and would cut off worker pathways to good jobs.
Pingree is also a member of the House Appropriations Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. Republicans’ agriculture bill released last week cuts funding to levels not seen since 2006 and slashes funding for critical programs Americans count on. Cuts in the bill would mean pulling loans from distressed farmers, pulling funding to help rural energy and utility providers bring affordable, reliable clean energy to communities and significantly crippling the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) which safeguards the health of millions of women, infants, and children.
In April, Pingree and nearly 200 members from across the House Democratic Caucus called on Republicans to uphold their obligation to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by lifting the debt ceiling “without any extraneous policies attached.”
Most recently, Pingree and more than 60 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), led by CPC Chair Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Deputy Chair Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Whip Greg Casar (D-Texas), called on President Biden to prepare to invoke his constitutional authority granted in the 14th Amendment to uphold the full faith and credit of the United States and end Republican hostage taking of the economy that could trigger a financial catastrophe.