Twelve-and-a-half million people in the United States are currently unemployed, and 5.1 million have been out of a job for over six months. For individuals struggling to find work, federally funded employment and social services programs are crucial resources on the road to employment.
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee worked to advance legislation that aims to avoid an automatic, across-the-board spending cut scheduled for January.
Today, the House passed legislation (H.R. 5652) that would reduce the deficit through targeted reductions to entitlement programs for the poor. Another bill, the Sequester Replacement Act of 2012 (H.R. 4966), proposes to make key changes to provisions agreed to by Congress last year in the Budget Control Act (BCA).
In order to prevent programs — like those that support Goodwill’s efforts to help people find jobs and advance in careers — from absorbing the bulk of the automatic cuts, Democrats and Republicans instituted a firewall in the BCA to ensure any budget reductions come proportionally from both defense and non-defense programs. This firewall also encourages the two parties to develop bipartisan legislation to reduce the deficit.
The new Sequester Replacement Act bill would reduce FY 2013 spending agreed to in the Budget Control Act. While the BCA provides $1.047 trillion in discretionary spending, the new act would reduce that amount by $19 billion. Without the above firewall, any additional cuts would likely be absorbed by the type of programs that support Goodwill’s mission.
If H. R. 4966 is passed, however, the bill is likely to stall in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Throughout the remainder of this Congressional session, we can expect additional partisan deficit-reduction battles with similar results.
With both Republicans and Democrats alike hoping that they’ll have a good night on November 6, earnest deficit-reduction efforts will likely take place after the November elections.
In the meantime, Goodwill continues to urge Congress to take steps to advance bipartisan legislation that would strengthen local Goodwill agencies’ efforts to help our nation’s 12.5 million unemployed workers find jobs and advance their careers.