By Tila Neguse and Jim Cason
The budget agreement approved by Congress on December 18 is a modest, but critical step toward restoring regular order in Congress. Lawmakers should use this agreement to increase investments in programs that provide food for the hungry, keep children in schools and provide shelter for hundreds of thousands of families as winter approaches.
We are disappointed that this agreement failed to make the Pentagon pay its fair share – under this agreement Pentagon spending is essentially frozen at the same level as last year. Yet we are heartened that lawmakers were listening when the public explained that as our country winds down the second of two wars, Congress cannot continue to direct hundreds of billions of dollars into an agency that wastes more money in a single year than many cabinet agencies have to spend and cannot account for its own spending. Under this budget agreement, Pentagon spending is set at about $521 billion while non-defense discretionary spending totals $498. Ultimately, we agree with analysts across the political spectrum who say a $1 trillion cut in Pentagon spending over 10 years is reasonable and we will be working toward that goal.
We’re also disappointed that Congress left for the Holiday Season without extending unemployment insurance or declaring affirmatively that providing food for the hungry through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is absolutely essential to the health and security of the United States.
In the next year, our FCNL community around the country looks forward to working with the regular appropriations process in Congress to impose further budget discipline on the Pentagon and develop a long term budget that reflects the moral priorities of our nation.
For more information and analysis: http://fcnl.org/issues/budget/Bipartisan_Budget_Act_2013/
Neguse is legislative associate for Domestic Policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a 70-year-old Quaker lobby in the public interest. Cason directs Strategic Advocacy at FCNL. They work together to coordinate FCNL’s Capitol Hill and grassroots lobbying on Pentagon spending.