October 12, 2012
Thanks for all your feedback on last week’s e-update focusing on sequestration. Last week we listed cuts from Agriculture, Education, Energy, and Health and Human Services. This week we are listing cuts from Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development. If you missed last week’s listing, it is posted on my website at http://capuano.house.gov/e-updates/eu2012-10-05.shtml.
As we get closer to the lame duck session, I’d like to highlight some additional federal programs that are facing steep cuts. As a reminder, most federal programs will be subject to an 8.2% cut in 2013. It is not clear yet how deep the cuts will be in future years. Some programs will be cut more than 8.2% and some will be cut less. The full report on the impact of sequestration prepared by the Office of Management and Budget can be found here: http://democrats.budget.house.gov/publication/omb-report-pursuant-sequestration-transparency-act-2012.
The programs below are listed by Department, in the order that they appear in the OMB report.
Department of Homeland Security
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA): $643 million
The TSA is responsible for security at our airports, including passenger and baggage screening. Officials also participate in port security and intelligence analysis. The Federal Air Marshall Program is funded through TSA.
- Customs and Border Protection: $955 million
This agency secures our borders, keeping those who would do us harm (and their weapons) out of the country. Officials conduct cargo examinations and agriculture inspections, and help to enforce immigration laws.
- United States Coast Guard: $439 million
The Coast Guard conducts search and rescue missions, protects our maritime interests, participates in port security, screens vessels before they are cleared to enter the U.S. and much more.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): $878 million
FEMA helps communities prepare for and recover from disasters such as hurricanes and floods. It offers several grants, including ones that help states improve their preparedness.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Public Housing Operating Fund: $325 million
This money helps public housing agencies manage their housing properties. It can be used for property maintenance and services.
- Tenant Based Rental Assistance: $1.5 billion
This money helps low income people afford a place to live by assisting with rent supplements, utilities or a security deposit.
- Project Based Rental Assistance: $772 million
These funds are also used to help people afford a place to live, but the assistance applies to specific housing units.
If you add up the money that is coming out of housing programs, it amounts to more than $2.6 billion in cuts. This is money that helps keep people off the street and maintains public housing so that it doesn’t become inhabitable and a blight on the neighborhood. If cuts of this magnitude are forced on federal housing funding for ten years, the impact on needy families will be devastating.
- Community Planning and Development: $548 million
This agency funds the community development block grant program (CDBG) which cities and towns all over the country use to improve business districts, update parks and playgrounds, plant trees and so much more. It also funds the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program and homeless assistance grants.
As you review these numbers, keep in mind they are coming for ten years, not just one. Programs will be cut by 8.2% in 2013 but after that, funding reductions have not been finalized. They could be less than 8.2% but they could be much more.
Congress returns to Washington in a little over a month. I will keep you informed as debate over sequestration resumes. Again, thank you for all the feedback last week. We received lots of thoughtful commentary on the process and on the impact of these cuts.
I spent some time this week catching up with staff and organizers at the Chelsea Collaborative. The Collaborative has been making a difference in Chelsea for more than twenty years, working on many issues ranging from environmental justice to immigrant rights and youth employment initiatives. We had a great discussion, and I had the opportunity to hear first-hand from staff how national policies are impacting the City of Chelsea and the Collaborative. I appreciated the hospitality and the chance to hear more about the efforts of the Chelsea Collaborative.
On Wednesday I was very happy to join local, state and federal officials at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Muddy River Restoration Project. I have been working to advance this effort since my first months in office. The Army Corps of Engineers will manage the work, which began primarily as an effort to prevent flooding. You may recall that in the late 1990’s, the MBTA’s Green Line was closed for almost a week due to flooding after severe rainstorms in the area swelled the river. The work being done will address flooding issues, restore two sections of the river, remove sediment and improve the shoreline. The Muddy River restoration represents more than a decade of citizen commitment to reduce the risk of flooding, to restore habitat, and to reclaim a link in Frederick Law Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace.
Somerville Chamber of Commerce
I spoke this week at the Somerville Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs breakfast. Many attendees were interested in the upcoming lame duck session and concerned about the impact of sequestration. We also talked about the Green Line Extension (GLX) and the difficult fiscal situation facing the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. I reiterated my support for the project and my belief that project supporters need to push the GLX as far as possible now, when Governor Patrick, who is a big GLX supporter, is still in office. I fully support the GLX and want to see it completely built out to Route 16, with a bike path along it. I remain concerned, however, that the state will not have the funding to finish the entire project. I think it’s important that supporters have a contingency plan if full funding is not available in the near term. I’ve made my case for doing as much as we can now with the money we know is available.
Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester
I also visited the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester where I talked with staff and met some young club members. Boys and Girls Clubs are great community resources, offering programming ranging from arts and athletics to tutoring and homework help. I have several popular clubs in my district and they offer so much to the communities they serve. Children can form lifelong friendships with other club members, improve their academic skills and learn to swim, all in one place. I enjoyed my time with staff and club members.
Don Orione Home
Yesterday I joined members of the East Boston community at an open house hosted by the Don Orione Home. This 190 bed nursing and rehabilitation facility has been open for over 60 years, providing quality care. The Home hasn’t been renovated since it opened, and yesterday was a celebration to announce some long overdue renovations. Facility owners are planning to rebuild the Home without negatively impacting patient care. My aunt spent her last years at the Don Orione Home and received great care. I look forward to touring the Home after it is renovated.