House Republicans once again are showing where their true priorities lie.  Appropriations committee chair Tom Cole (R-OK) announced the GOP’s topline numbers for fiscal year 2025 — including at least a 10% cut in funding for Labor/HHS (Health & Human Services).  That could mean agencies like the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would endure a huge spending cut, while Republican appropriators propose to boost military spending by 1%.

“As we have said many times, a budget is a moral document. But where is the morality in slashing funding for agencies that service our nation’s most vulnerable citizens — especially seniors who depend on their benefits for financial and health security?” said NCPSSM President and CEO Max Richtman.  Meanwhile, the House Republican Study Committee proposed making the Trump/GOP tax cuts permanent – a generous gift to their wealthy donors and big corporations.

The appropriations plan announced today dishonors the debt limit deal struck by White House, Senate, and House negotiators last year, in that it casts aside “side deals” that would have provided more revenue for appropriators to work with. Ranking Appropriations Committee member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) scolded Republicans for “leaving on the table at least $75 billion in investments that (American) families depend on.”

NCPSSM Senior Legislative Representative Maria Freese notes that Cole’s announcement does not specify which agencies and programs under the Labor/HHS umbrella would be cut – and by how much. But she points out, “Even though we don’t know how the individual pie slices will turn out, the overall pie is a lot smaller.”

Freese says that, in addition to SSA and CMS funding, some Older Americans Act programs could be affected by a 10% reduction in Labor/HHS appropriations, including the popular Meals on Wheels program.  For his part, the only regret that Chairman Cole voiced is that he wishes he could have come up with more funding for Defense:

“If there’s ways along the way that we can do some things to help defense, I certainly intend to do them, but I don’t know what they are yet.” – Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Chairman, House Appropriations Committee

The House Appropriations committee is scheduled to vote on the actual numbers next week.  The Senate, meanwhile, is working on its own appropriations package, which likely will look very different than the working House version. Senate Appropriations Committee Vice-Chair Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) would like to boost defense spending even more; Appropriations Committee member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) insists that defense and non-defense spending be boosted equally.

The ultimate compromise between the two chambers, when it finally comes, likely will be less drastic than the current House GOP appropriations scheme announced today.  “Hopefully, this 10% cut to Labor/HHS won’t happen, and shouldn’t happen,” said Freese. “But in this very crucial election year, it does show you what direction House Republicans want to take us.”