More than 80 liberal advocacy groups, unions and think tanks told congressional leaders Friday to stick to the debt ceiling deal reached earlier this year and reject the additional spending cuts that bogged down the House this week.
“We urge the House to abandon the dangerous, partisan path it has chosen so far and instead follow the example set by the Senate and pass appropriations bills that, at minimum, adhere to the contours of the recent bipartisan budget deal, invest appropriately in critical national priorities, and can earn bipartisan support,” ProsperUS Coalition said in a letter obtained by HuffPost.
While the letter was sent to Democratic and Republican party leaders of the House, Senate and the Appropriations Committees, the composition of the coalition of signatories ensures it will be seen by Capitol Hill Democrats as urging them to stick to their guns.
The signers of the letter include high-profile liberal groups like the Center for American Progress, the Service Employees International Union, the Communication Workers of America, the Economic Policy Institute and the Quaker group Friends Committee on National Legislation, as well as newer groups like the Working Families Party, Groundwork Collaborative and the Economic Security Project.
In it, the groups say spending cuts proposed by the House would hurt education programs, lead poisoning prevention, health care, safe drinking water and cancer research, as well as efforts to crack down on wealthy tax cheats. Republicans say they are merely focusing on core government responsibilities, like defense, homeland security and caring for veterans.
The Center for American Progress estimated the average cut to non-defense programs, excluding veterans care, would be 9.5%. The cuts would translate to an almost 80% cut in grants to schools in low-income areas, a 56% to 70% cut in the fruit and vegetable benefit for recipients of the WIC (Women Infants and Children) food program and a $665 million cut to the Environmental Protection Agency’s program to help states ensure safe drinking water access, it said.
The letter came after lawmakers left Washington, D.C., on Thursday still without having passed a dozen bills needed to fund the daily work of government agencies, raising the odds for a government shutdown beginning Oct. 1.
In the House, an attempt to vote on a $826.4 billion Pentagon funding bill ran aground as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was unable to convince party holdouts to allow the bill on the House floor. The holdouts have also threatened to vote against a stopgap bill to keep the government open temporarily past Sept. 30.
The hardline Republicans of the House Freedom Caucus want the total of all the funding bills to be no more than $1.47 trillion, below the $1.59 trillion cap on spending in the deal that allowed the debt ceiling to be suspended until 2024.
With only four votes to spare, McCarthy will have to tread a tightrope to pass bills with only Republican support.
In the Senate, the bills have passed out of committee with strong bipartisan support but have yet to get to the floor. The House has passed one for military construction and veterans programs to send to the Senate.
In the letter, the groups said, “The budget deal President Biden reached with Senate and House leadership already includes significant and painful compromises that directly impact the communities we represent. Therefore, moving forward, lawmakers should emphatically reject further cuts in any final spending deal.”
The ProsperUS groups also urged Hill leaders to agree to a stopgap bill if, as is likely, full-year funding can’t be agreed to by Sept. 30.
They said, “We know that the American people overwhelmingly oppose throwing our government into a shutdown in the service of unpopular and damaging cuts that will jeopardize the economic well-being of millions of families.”