This story originally appeared in Common Dreams on July 15, 2023. It is shared here with permission under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license.
House Democrats warned that hundreds of thousands of teachers could lose their jobs if legislation advanced Friday by a Republican-controlled appropriations subcommittee becomes law.
The panel’s draft Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill for the coming fiscal year calls for nearly $64 billion in total cuts, a proposal that Democrats said “decimates support for children in K-12 elementary schools and early childhood education” and “abandons college students and low-income workers trying to improve their lives through higher education or job training.”
The nonprofit Committee for Education Funding noted that the Republican proposal would impact “virtually all” education programs, hitting teacher funding, student aid, and more. The bill, one of a dozen appropriations measures that Congress is looking to pass by the end of September, would bring Department of Education funding to below the 2006 level, according to the group.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said Friday that “we are witnessing a widespread attack on public education that should shock every American family.”
“If left to their own devices,” DeLauro added, “Republicans would gleefully take public education to the graveyard.”
The GOP legislation would slash Title I grants to local educational agencies that serve children from low-income families by nearly $15 billion compared to fiscal year 2023 levels. Appropriations Committee Democrats said the massive cut “could force a nationwide reduction of 220,000 teachers from classrooms serving low-income students” amid a teacher shortage.
The legislation would also completely eliminate funding for a number of Education Department programs, including Federal Work-Study, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Promise Neighborhoods, and Child Care Access Means Parents in School.
Additionally, the bill would inflict major cuts to labor, health, and medical research programs and agencies, slashing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration by $95 million, Job Corps by $1.8 billion, the National Institutes of Health by $2.8 billion, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by $1.6 billion.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second-largest teacher’s union in the U.S., expressed outrage over the GOP funding measure’s “deep cuts to education, healthcare, and worker programs.”
“At the same time, another GOP-led committee is advancing bills to extend tax cuts for the rich,” the union wrote, referring to the House Ways and Means Committee, which recently approved a tax-cut package that would disproportionately benefit large corporations and the top 1%.
“Their values are showing—and they’re not pretty,” AFT added.
The proposed funding cuts for labor, health, education, and related agencies are part of the GOP’s far-reaching assault on federal programs as members of Congress race to approve a dozen appropriations bills by September 30—the end of the current fiscal year—to avert a government shutdown.
The debt ceiling agreement reached in late May by the Biden White House and Republican leaders set caps on non-military discretionary outlays, but GOP appropriators are working to cut spending as much as possible, targeting clean water funds, IRS enforcement, public housing, and other critical programs.