A Little Story about a Colossal Failure
June 25, 2010 § 6 Comments
The Senate recently took up the American Jobs, Closing Tax Loopholes and Preventing Outsourcing Act (H.R. 4213), otherwise known as the “extenders” bill. The bill would have extended unemployment benefits for people who’ve been out of work and looking for jobs for six months or more. The bill was also important to states needing additional aid and struggling to maintain critical Medicaid programs in the face of huge budget shortfalls. It would have extended these and other important provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Recovery Act) – a federal response to the worst economic recession in recent memory.
The bill had been on life-support and last night, the Senate pulled the plug.
The failure of this bill means:
- Families will become financially insecure and at risk of hunger.
- Social programs serving the most vulnerable will scale back or shut their doors.
- State budgets in free-fall will see the trees.
Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press writes “the demise [of the bill] means that unemployment benefits will phase out for more than 200,000 people a week.” And according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Texas will lose out on $858 million in federal Medicaid funding when the Recovery Act provision expires at the end of the year. This is bizarre given the state confronts an estimated $18 billion budget deficit.
The Senate brawled over how to pay for the bill. One suggestion was to target future Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits as an offset. SNAP helps millions of low-income people and families get the food they need. SNAP also stimulates the economy. For every $5 in SNAP benefits spent, $9 is generated in local communities. This critical safety net is needed at all times and especially during a severe economic recession.
The unquestionable importance and impact of SNAP must not be undermined during deliberations of any legislation.
The Capital Area Food Bank is deeply concerned about tens of thousands of food insecure people in our service territory. Our dedicated and caring Partner Agencies struggle to provide emergency food assistance to people at risk of hunger. This challenge – already acute – will further intensify as tens of thousands of unemployed people and their families seek our help because Congress and Texas have failed to step up.
And this didn’t have to happen.
How did our leaders in Texas vote for this bill?
|No||Senator John Cornyn [R]|
|No||Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison [R]|