Another Budget Battle: Addressing Our Deficit and Investing in Our Communities

By Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) / 4.6.11


The 112th Congress has seen the Republican Party attempt to avoid the topic of job creation by focusing on short term resolutions, like H.J. Res. 48, that fund the government in increments of 2 and 3 weeks. As a result of this strategy we have failed to pass a full spending bill and are once again faced with a government shutdown.

The cuts the Republicans continue to propose are done so without any thought as to how they will actually affect our nation.  In February, the U.S House of Representatives passed H.R.1, the “Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011,” which funds the government through September 30th, 2011 where it now awaits action from the Senate. This bill contains egregious cuts that would weaken our economy while limiting minorities and low income individuals ability to strengthen their small businesses and obtain access to preventative health care.  These cuts do nothing but continue the devastation of people of color and low income families across the nation, who already face barriers and huge health disparities.

In particular, this bill cuts nearly $200 million from the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund which provides much needed access to credit to many minority and women-owned small businesses around the country.  This program would result in the loss of 19,000 jobs nationwide.  While Democrats continue to focus on job creation, Republicans are focused on slashing jobs by the thousand.

H.R. 1 would also eliminate federal funding to Planned Parenthood, which provides underserved communities around the country with cancer screenings, HIV testing, and annual exams.  As you may know, having access to Planned Parenthood provides low income women and their families the quality health care needed to treat and prevent disease.  For the uninsured and low-income women across this country this funding could literally mean life or death, and it is a shame that partisan politics have come in the way of their receiving proper healthcare.

It is time that this Republican led Congress chooses the right priorities and move forward on legislation that creates jobs for low-income communities.  While we need to reduce our deficit, we can do this in a way that does not throw our most vulnerable citizens under the bus.

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