Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, by a mostly party-line vote. The bill, a follow up to the budget resolution passed by the House earlier this year, would replace the automatic defense cuts scheduled to go into effect beginning in January, 2013 under sequestration with $72 billion in cuts in the coming year to non-defense programs.
Specifically, the legislation would cut almost $8 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, in the first year while restricting eligibility for the program and repealing the enhanced benefits enacted under the 2009 stimulus bill. It would also cut billions from Medicaid by repealing the maintenance of effort protections in the Affordable Care Act, which have ensured states keep coverage and eligibility attainable for children, and eliminating the incentive program that rewards states for increasing enrollment for eligible children. Finally the bill would eliminate the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), which CWLA has shown is a critical funding stream for the child welfare system.
President Obama has threatened to veto the bill and the Senate has shown no interest in taking it up. Still, the bill’s passage is important because as the looming 2013 sequestration cuts get closer pressure to replace or eliminate them will increase. This bill demonstrates just how the House seeks to do so and may come into play during post-election negotiations.