|Budget Deal Passes and Appropriators Get to Work
(December 24, 2013)
After weeks of closed door negotiations, budget conference chairs Patty Murray (D-WA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. This bill willrestore $63 billion in sequester cuts over fiscal years 2014 and 2015 and provide equal relief to both defense and non-defense programs. Of particular note is the fact that this legislation provides enough funding to restore 87% of the cuts endured by non-defense programs in FY 2013. Thus, if these additional monies were applied equally across all non-defense programs, they would restore 87 cents of every dollar TRIO programs lost this year.
While it is unclear exactly how the funds will be allocated, it remains clear that the Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are eager to make targeted spending decisions for priority issues and programs as a result of this budget agreement. They are so enthused that they will forego their holiday break in order to draft an omnibus appropriations package and have it ready for passage before January 15, 2014. (This is the date that the current funding bill expires.)
- What does all this mean? — Over the next several weeks — including this holiday break — the entire TRIO community will have the opportunity to win increased funding andreverse the losses caused by sequestration!
This is our best opportunity to secure the $850 million approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee for TRIO last July. This is enough funding to reverse the 5.23% sequester cut as well as provide additional increases to support all TRIO programs!
- What must we do? — We must engage all TRIO staff, students, parents, alumni, and other supporters to call the LOCAL offices of Appropriators with the following message.
“I need [APPROPRIATOR NAME] to fight for $850 million in TRIO funding in the FY 2014!”
A list of the local office numbers for Appropriations Committee Members is available here (.pdf).
- What other information should I be prepared to share? — You should be prepared to discuss the impact of TRIO in your local community. TRIO directors and staff should talk about the cuts that the programs have had to endure (fewer students served, reduced program services, staffing cuts, etc.). You may wish to share success stories or statistics about your students and programs as well.
- Why are we calling local offices instead of calling Washington, D.C.? — Most congressional staff will be away from D.C. for the holiday break. Also, we want to emphasize that this is a LOCAL effort by concerned citizens. Therefore, reaching out to the local offices of Appropriators is the best course of action at this time. In the beginning of January, COE will advise everyone when they should begin calling Washington, D.C.
- What if I live/work in an area that is represented by legislators who do not sit on the Appropriations Committees? — If you live or work in an area that is represented by legislators who are not Members of the Appropriations Committees in the House or Senate, we encourage you to reach out to your own legislators and urge them to go to their colleagues who are on the Appropriations Committees and fight on your behalf. Here is a sample message... "My name is ________ and I am a resident of ________. I need ________ to work with the leaders of the Appropriations Committee fund TRIO at $850 million in FY 2014!" Local contact information for all legislators is available online at (http://www.contactingthecongress.org/).
- What about sending e-mail messages? What about social media? — As most of the congressional staff that would track e-mail and social media messages will be on vacation, the best option at this time is to reach out to the local office.
- How long should we keep calling? — This effort should continue throughout the holiday season and not let up until January 15, 2014. (This is the date when the current funding bill will expire and the target date by which the Appropriators hope to pass the bill that will fund the remainder of FY 2014.) COE will definitely keep you all posted on the process as it unfolds and provide updated guidance as necessary.
- Why are we asking for $850 million in funding? — This is the funding level that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved for TRIO last July. (The House Appropriations Committee never released a bill because their proposed funding levels were too low to pass muster.)
- How else can I help increase our chances of getting $850 million in funding for FY 2014? — Get everyone else you know involved — from your friends and neighbors to your college presidents and local leaders (pastors, rabbis, community organizers, etc.)! In order to stand out among the crowd, TRIO is going to have to have a LOUD voice that includes everyday citizens and prominent local leaders as well. COE is happy to provide additional guidance to anyone interested in taking action on behalf of TRIO funding!
- What if I have additional questions over the holiday break? — Our work at COE is never done! Just as we are asking you to be active over the holiday break, we will be active, too! If anyone should have any questions or concerns, or simply wish to share feedback from these efforts, please don't hesitate to contact Kimberly Jones by e-mail at (firstname.lastname@example.org), by phone at (202) 347-7430, Ext. #381, or by mobile at (202) 489-6745.
Thank you for your continued work on behalf of low-income, first-generation students across the nation!