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Letter to the Senate Opposing H. J. Res. 59

September 24, 2013

Dear Senator: 

On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association, we urge you to VOTE NO on H.J. Res. 59, the Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY 2014, which continues the devastating cuts to education set in motion by the sequester and permanently defunds the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 113th Congress. 

This CR locks in the damaging sequester cuts through December 15 and even sets funding slightly below the current, post-sequestration level. It is long past time for Congress to reverse course from the austerity approach that included slashing education across-the-board by 5 percent this year—the equivalent of cutting nearly all education programs and Head Start by roughly $3 billion. The level of cuts imposed by sequestration have already taken federal funding back to pre-2004 levels while our nation’s schools are serving nearly 6 million more students since that time.  We urge your opposition to any CR that locks in this inadequate level of funding for our students.   

NEA believes that to ensure equity for all students, Congress must reverse this wrong-headed approach.  To date, a disproportionate share of  sequester cuts have impacted higher-poverty communities and therefore, students most in need — 57,00 children have already lost critical seats in Head Start classes, schools served by Impact Aid have already seen drastic reductions in funding, and additional harmful impacts are beginning to be felt in classrooms as the school year begins. Many of these school districts and their students rely heavily on federal resources for education funding; some even up to 50% of their total revenue. For more information, including state-level data please see this new NEA analysis.  

It’s time for Congress to reject a continuation of these draconian cuts and replace the sequester with a balanced package that demands additional revenue, including closing corporate tax loopholes. Looking forward, we also strongly urge Congress to avoid any effort to protect Defense spending by cutting more deeply from non-defense programs. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “since 2010, non-defense discretionary programs have been cut more deeply than defense. In 2013, funding for non-defense discretionary programs was 15.7 percent below the 2010 level adjusted for inflation, compared to 11.6 percent below for defense.”  

In addition to continuing sequestration levels of funding, the House-passed CR permanently defunds the ACA — a law that ensures 17 million children do not face coverage denials due to preexisting conditions. This action would also result in a 70 percent cut to the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

We also oppose the inclusion of H.R. 807 within the CR. This provision merely heightens the possibility of allowing the US government to default on its obligations during the upcoming debt ceiling negotiations. The consequences of a default would reverberate across our economy affecting every American through higher interest rates, investors fleeing the U.S. market and broad economic uncertainty.  

Congress should be investing in our future through education. The need to increase the federal investment in education has never been greater. Jobs and the economy are directly linked to such investments. Both unemployment rates and lifetime earnings are connected to levels of educational attainment.  

We urge you to VOTE NO on H.J. Res 59 as it would maintain the devastating cuts to education caused by sequester.

Sincerely, 

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations