Citizens Speak Out: Congress Must Finish Appropriating

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ordinary citizens from across the country are calling on Congress to finish the annual appropriations process and pass a spending package for FY 2022.

With today’s news that U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has lifted her hold on the short-term continuing resolution that extends the funding deadline to March 11, just three weeks remain to finish the omnibus appropriations package. Finishing and passing this bill is key to avoiding another year with outdated, insufficient funding levels for urgent priorities like veterans and health research, and continue wasteful funding streams that no longer make sense.

Without this bill, lawmakers in both parties would miss the chance to use their newly reinstated power to secure funding for projects back home that will benefit their communities: projects that build streetlights, create job training and medical facilities, preserve historic landmarks, and more. Finally, the omnibus provides an opportunity to remove outdated, harmful poison pill policy riders that have snuck into appropriations packages over time, which cannot be removed through a long-term continuing resolution.

Below are remarks from ordinary citizens around the country speaking out about the importance of passing an annual spending package instead of continuing existing funding levels. Reporters interested in interviewing them can contact David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

 

“National parks provide veterans like me places to heal, so that we can return to civilian life with an improved sense of self and a renewed dedication to the progress of our country. But the effects of climate change are creating hazardous scenarios for our national parks, their visitors, and the staff protecting these irreplaceable places. Years of inadequate funding and staffing have only made it more difficult for parks to combat climate impacts. Congress has the opportunity now to help parks and all who care for them. Those in uniform deserve to know that the government will continue to support them and pass a budget to combat climate change and support our parks.”

  • Jimi Shaughnessy, veterans program manager, National Parks Conservation Association, Springfield, Va.

 

“An ongoing freeze on funding veterans’ health will mean closing inpatient rehab units and extending wait times for routine outpatient procedures. The pandemic has pushed up hospital occupancy rates to near full and is depleting our already thin nursing staff. If Congress doesn’t increase our funding through a new full-year spending bill, it will mean our veterans have to wait longer for orthopedic care, GI procedures, and other needed services because we simply don’t have enough nurses to meet all their needs.”

  • MJ Burke, physical therapist, VA Medical Center, Indianapolis, Ind.

 

“The infrastructure bill promised job training funds for mechanics, bus drivers, and others. It promised more transit service for all of us. We need Congress to fund these programs and deliver on these promises or transit workers are going to suffer.”

  • Tom Shaw, bus driver, Philadelphia, Penn.

 

“I am a family childcare provider in Salem, Oregon. Unlike centers, I offer flexibility and will work with families based on their needs. Financially it is difficult to be a childcare provider, and the cost for pandemic-related expenses to stay open has been huge. The demand for childcare is enormous: I receive about five calls a day requesting care from families in our community, including from essential workers. We need Congress to increase childcare funding, so that working families can access the care they need and pay providers a living wage.”

  • Rachael Lamet, owner, Lamet’s Treasures, member AFSCME Council 75, Salem, Ore.

 

“For fiscal year 2022, I ask that Congress pass an appropriations bill that includes good progress towards fully funding IDEA. Funding would significantly support students with special needs, including my daughter. My daughter and other children deserve a chance to excel and be seen as more than just their disability qualifying code.”

  • Melina Espiritu-Azocar, parent of a student with special needs, San Antonio, Texas