House GOP spending cuts will devastate women, families and economy

For more than forty years, for example, the Title X program has provided family planning services, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other preventive health care to low-income women. But H.R. 1 eliminates the Title X program, abandoning the more than five million low-income women and men who are served each year by Title X-funded health centers. It also eliminates funding for teen pregnancy prevention, creating yet another barrier for young women in need of resources to help them make responsible decisions about their health and their lives.

H.R. 1 also slashes funding for programs that promote the health of pregnant women, infants and young children. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food, counseling and other supports to millions of low-income pregnant women, new mothers and infants.  Studies have linked participation in WIC with higher birth weight and lower infant mortality. H.R. 1 slashes $747 million from WIC.  Each year, more than two million pregnant women and 27 million children receive health services from state and local programs supported by the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant. H.R. 1 cuts $50 million from this program.

In addition, H.R. 1 gouges key federal early learning investments—Head Start, Early Head Start and the Child Care Development Block Grant. It takes more than $1 billion from Head Start and $39 million from child care, which will cause 368,000 children to lose the early learning support they need to start school ready to succeed and will leave in the lurch thousands of families who rely on child care assistance to work.

H.R. 1 also threatens educational opportunities for women. It eliminates the Women’s Educational Equity program, which helps schools comply with Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. And it makes college less affordable for millions of low-income women and men by reducing Pell Grants by more than $800 per student and eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program that provides additional grants to the lowest-income Pell recipients. 

Job training helps workers in low-wage, low-skill, and low-security jobs – disproportionately women – prepare for employment in growth industries.  Yet H.R. 1 cuts over $2 billion from job training programs.

The cuts in H.R. 1 will hit older Americans hard.  Cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars to fund Social Security offices would delay the processing of applications for Social Security and Medicare benefits that women especially depend on.  H.R. 1 also cuts funding for a range of supports for older individuals, including employment services, meals, and housing.  Women comprise more than two-thirds of the poor over age 65, and these cuts will leave them facing an even more dire situation.

This plan is irresponsible and dangerous. It would cost jobs at a time when unemployment remains high and the recovery is still fragile. Yet the savings that would be achieved by gutting these core domestic programs are less than half the cost of the two-year extension of tax breaks that House Republican leaders demanded last year and that benefit only the wealthiest Americans. House members should stand up for the millions of American women and families that this proposal would harm and stop it in its tracks.

Nancy Duff Campbell is co-president of the National Women’s Law Center.

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