Connect with us


How Republican spending cuts will hurt Washington state

DelBene and local advocates for families, housing, retirees outline the damage


KIRKLAND, Wash. (May 5, 2023) — Last week, House Republicans passed a bill that would have disastrous consequences for Washingtonians. On a 217-215 vote, Washington Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse both voted to approve the “Limit, Save, Grow Act,” which forces major cuts in federal spending in exchange for extending the government’s borrowing authority into next year.

All eight Democratic representatives from Washington state voted against the bill — which they call the “Default on America Act.” It would cut many federal programs by 22 percent that support veterans, children, seniors, food assistance, housing affordability, and education.

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1st) joined local advocates in highlighting the impact these cuts would have on Washington state.

“Instead of taking meaningful steps forward, House Republicans’ MAGA wish list is bringing us closer to a first-in-history federal default,” said DelBene. “With each passing day, Republicans’ political games create more uncertainty for families and the global economy. The best way to prevent a default and protect the United States’ full faith and credit is by passing a clean bill. We cannot afford to wait.”

Here’s what leaders across Washington are saying about the impact these draconian cuts would have in our communities:

Families and Children

“The House debt bill will have terrible consequences for Head Start children and families here in Washington State,” said Joel Ryan, Executive Director, Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP. “Head Start programs will be forced to slash enrollment, cut staff, and dilute services just as the needs of our lowest income preschool children and their families have experienced disrupted learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic. We should be doing all we can to help kids get ready for school. This bill does the exact opposite!”

“Loss of these funds ($100K) translates to reducing the amount of Healthy Start families FOY can serve by 20 on a rolling basis,” said Paul Lwali, President and CEO, Friends of Youth. “The impacted families will be primarily BIPOC families and only further denies the ability to increase health outcomes, for marginalized communities. Any reduction in the effectiveness of CPS ability always results in increasing the negative outcomes for youth.”

“Every day, Washington educators see the impacts of poverty on our students. Too many students and their families don’t have access to safe housing, adequate food, or medical care,” said Larry Delaney, President, Washington Education Association. “When we fail to meet our students’ basic needs, they don’t show up to school ready to learn. We urge Congress to pass a budget that ensures families can access supports that help children learn and grow.”

“The House GOP debt relief bill is anti-family and anti-parent, and it would have disastrous consequences for the country and Washington state. Amidst a severe child care shortage that is forcing parents out of the workforce, this bill would eliminate thousands of child care and preschool slots in Washington state, and would cause even more people to leave the child care workforce,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director and CEO, MomsRising. “No lawmaker should support a bill that would increase hunger and hardship, cause Washingtonians to lose their health insurance, prevent our government from addressing the student debt crisis, and push working families to the brink. We need a clean debt ceiling increase that does not cut the vital services families rely on. Moms will fight for the investments in health care, education, and the care infrastructure Washington state’s families and economy urgently need.”


Food Assistance

“Food insecurity remains high in the communities that VOA Western Washington serves. Changes to supplemental assistance, such as reduced or eliminated funding, create new challenges to the way we supply food and resources,” said Brian Smith, Interim CEO, Volunteers of America Western Washington. “We hope that support for our food banks and pantries continues to be a priority for our legislative partners.”

“Nearly half of all respondents in a recent University of Washington study are experiencing hunger. Cutting food assistance in this time of unprecedented need is not just cruel policy—it is wholly out of touch with the everyday experience of worry about where the next meal for a family will come from,” said Thomas Reynolds, CEO, Northwest Harvest. “These cuts not only hurt household food budgets, they hurt all of us when households have less money to buy food, further damaging our economy when local farms, grocers, and food businesses lose revenue and have to cut jobs.”

“With our nation and the world still recovering from a global pandemic, the likes of which we have not seen in 100 years, now is not the time to slash programs that assist people with basic needs such as food and health care.  Rather we must work harder than ever to bring health care, housing, and livable wages to people,” said Kim Sarnecki, CEO, Together Center. “If we want to build a thriving country where all people can engage and create meaningful work and life, we must work to reduce loneliness, poverty, intergenerational trauma, and oppression. Together we can.”


“Throughout the pandemic, we saw a temporary expansion of the Enhanced Child Tax Credit. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, this investment cut child poverty in the United States nearly in half,” said Joe Thompson, President, Mercy Housing. “As communities continue to rebound, including many of the residents who call Mercy Housing Northwest home, now is not the time for extreme austerity measures. Instead, we should be deepening investments that strengthen vulnerable communities and increase economic access that broadens our middle class.”

“From serving our community members in need, we know that when federal cuts in food assistance, medical coverage, and housing assistance are made, children and seniors are impacted the most.  When food costs increase, households choose not to refill prescriptions. People purchase lower-quality food because it costs less.  Decreased nutrition leads to adverse health impacts and increased medical needs,” said Donna Moulton, CEO, Housing Hope. “With the heightened focus on how families will meet their most basic needs, they tend to engage less in programs and educational opportunities that can provide holistic support and empowerment and help build bridges out of poverty. Cuts like these not only thwart progress that households, families, and communities are making, they create additional barriers that significantly impact individual and family stability today and in the future.”

“The House Republican’s debt bill would devastate families in Washington who are already struggling with sky-high housing costs. Four out of five very low-income households in Washington are paying more than they can afford for housing – leaving little left for child care, prescriptions, food, and other basic necessities,” said Rachael Myers, Executive Director, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. “This bill moves us in the wrong direction. Congress should expand housing assistance, not create more homelessness by cutting rental assistance and other programs low-income families need.”

“Any threats to critical investments in programs that support our most vulnerable neighbors, including limited affordable resources, are extremely harmful,” said Robin Walls, Executive Director/CEO, King County Housing Authority. “In our region, we are continuing to battle a historic homelessness crisis, housing unaffordability, and economic inequality. An increasing number of Americans are struggling with food and housing insecurity, and unable to afford even basic health care. It’s clear that we need to be expanding the social safety net, not threatening to reduce the limited resources that are available.”

“Rental assistance is a critical tool to prevent people from entering homelessness, and the House Republican debt proposal would remove this support for more than 17,000 families in Washington,” said Felicia Salcedo, Executive Director, We Are In, a King County housing advocacy organization. “We will never be able to end homelessness until we prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place – this plan would be harmful for our community.”

“Cuts to federal programs that support basic needs like food, medical care, and rental assistance risk increasing homelessness in our communities, especially among veterans, seniors, people who are medically fragile, and families with children,” said Marc Dones, CEO, King County Regional Homelessness Authority. “Local communities are already struggling with increasing homelessness—without federal support for basic needs, even more people will be pushed onto the streets.”


“As a Veteran, who has a 70% service-connected disability that limits me from working a traditional job with medical benefits, I rely on VA for all my medical needs. It would be a huge financial and psychological burden to me and my family if this benefit were lost or wait times were extended even further than they already are. The current VA Community Care program already has wait times longer than they are supposed to be, and reducing funds would only make matters worse,” said Rebecca a retired Navy veteran from Bothell. “Veterans make up less than 1% of our nation’s population. For those with service-connected disabilities, it would be a dishonor to further limit their earned benefits for serving this great nation.”


“Retirees and their allies demand that Congress reject the threats we have heard repeatedly from the GOP to cut Social Security and Medicare,” said Jackie Boschok, President, Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans. “Congress must not, under any circumstances, allow MAGA Republicans to dictate destructive policies that would be harmful not only to seniors, but to all Americans.”

“It’s more than just cutting funding to feed thousands of seniors. It also removes funding for supporting their stronger mental health, building social interactions, increasing general health, and creating a foundation for a positive future,” said Erica Polney of Homage, one of the largest senior service providers in Washington.

“We are gravely concerned about the impact of the proposed cuts outlined in the U.S. House Republicans debt bill. Irreparable damage will be done to thousands of older Washingtonians and adults living with disabilities and their caregivers, impacting every community across the state,” said Cathy Knight, State Director, WA Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “The new SNAP eligibility restrictions will harm over 185,000 Washingtonians who will lose food assistance, many of whom are older adults already experiencing nutritional challenges daily. Older adults, people with disabilities and their families will be at greater risk of losing their housing with the loss of essential rental assistance under the proposed plan. Reductions in staff who assist with Social Security and Medicare will affect 1.5 million Washingtonians who qualify for these benefits because of age or disability but will have to wait longer for assistance. The medical care for 164,500 Washington state veterans will be compromised as they lose access to critical outpatient visits. We need to do better for those who have contributed so much to this great country.”

House Republicans’ bill is estimated to make the following cuts to Washington state:

  • 4,800 preschool and child care slots would be eliminated
  • 187,000 Washingtonians would lose food assistance
  • 89,000 students would see the cost of college go up
  • 17,000 Washington families would see an increase in their housing costs
  • 164,500 veterans could lose medical care
  • 371,000 Washingtonians could lose Apple Health (Medicaid) coverage
  • 1.5 million seniors would have to wait at least 2 months longer for Social Security and Medicare assistance

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!