Today, in the Senate Budget Committee, we began the two-day process of discussing the Republicans’ proposed federal budget. The budget is supposed to be a clear indication of American priorities and values. And the way I see it, government has three core functions and responsibilities — public health, public safety, and public education. This budget does not prioritize or value a single one of them.
It cuts Medicare by $473 billion — a program affecting 57 million seniors and the disabled. It cuts Medicaid — which ensures basic access to health care for our most vulnerable populations — children, low income working Americans, Americans with disabilities, and seniors by $1 trillion.
It cuts funds available to the LIHEAP program, which helps Americans heat their homes. It would eliminate heating assistance for nearly 700,000 seniors on fixed incomes, people with disabilities and families with children. The budget would also cut essential funding to public safety programs like the Crime Victims Fund.
It cuts public education by slashing Pell Grant funding by more than $100 billion. That’s a 33% cut to a program that makes college more affordable for more than 8 million students in this country. This budget does nothing to address the rising cost of higher education, or ensure that students do not fall prey to for-profit colleges that mislead or defraud their students.
And beyond those core functions of public health, safety and education, it lacks investments in jobs, affordable housing, reforming the criminal justice system and fixing our nation’s failing infrastructure.
Instead, this budget has a clear goal — reducing taxes on the top 1% and cutting the investments that give working families and the middle class the opportunity to meaningfully participate and share in the success of our economy.
In this budget’s proposed tax plan, the 20 percent of households stand to receive nearly ninety percent of the tax cuts.
This proposed budget allows Republicans to create a $1.5 trillion tax plan without having to pay for it, driving up our country’s deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. What does this mean — it means a Republican budget that has made a choice to give a tax cut to the top 1% while leaving the federal government unable to pay $1.5 trillion worth of its bills.
That’s not fiscally responsible, it’s not smart, and that’s not what the American people want or deserve.
What the American people want is for us to work together in a bipartisan way on the issues that matter.
One area that has seen bipartisan compromise and is not addressed in this budget is immigration.
Immigrants helped build this country. They are servicemembers, business leaders, Nobel winners, teachers, neighbors.
And right now, 11 million live in the shadows in fear of deportation while still contributing to our country’s security and prosperity. Undocumented immigrants pay state and local taxes. They contribute to our businesses consumers and workers. They harvest our crops and tend our farms.
DACA recipients alone will contribute $460 billion in the national GDP over the next decade.
My amendment calls for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. This amendment would decrease the budget deficit by nearly $200 billion over a 10 year period.
Welcoming people into citizenship, just as Presidents of both parties have done, makes our country and our economy stronger.
Yet in our current climate, we’re seeing young people threatened who are American in every way but one — we’re forcing them to potentially leave the only home they’ve ever known.
This amendment would fully acknowledge those people who are already our neighbors — so we can all live up to our nation’s proud history as a nation of immigrants.
This budget should address that. Americans deserve a budget that is true to our history as a nation of immigrants.
Americans deserve a budget that fulfills government’s essential functions like public education, public safety and public health, including the immigrants that contribute to our society.
Americans deserve a budget that strengthens the middle class and opens up more opportunities for the middle class and working people to succeed.
They deserve a budget that increases training programs for workers so they can get the advanced skills they need to move up in their current roles, or retrain for new industries.
And they deserve a budget that improves the health care that they have, creates more opportunity for a quality and affordable education, and provides for safer communities.
Americans deserve better than this budget. And I intend to fight hard against it. It puts America’s future at risk.