WASHINGTON — Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington, joined congressional Democratic leaders Wednesday in urging Republicans to reject their own party’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year.
Democrats have criticized the Republican budget, saying it would cut funding in healthcare and education programs that support middle class families, senior citizens and college students.
“They cut the portion of the budget we invest in our future,” said Van Hollen. “The one thing they don’t cut is special interest tax breaks that are in the tax code because some powerful interest got them there, not because they help the economy.”
Van Hollen, the Ranking Member on the House Budget Committee, joined five House and Senate colleagues in a Capitol press conference on a day when the House was scheduled to begin voting on the budget.
The only Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation, Rep. Andy Harris of Cockeysville, offered a sharp rejoinder to the Democrats’ criticism.
“The budget proposed by House and Senate Democrats will continue to hurt hardworking Americans with the reckless tax and spend policies that have left us with a stagnant economy and massive amounts of debt for our children and grandchildren,” Harris said. “Despite their proposed massive tax increases, it never actually balances.”
The Republican budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act and make cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is also the Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member, gave a mathematical breakdown of the number of people who would lose health care if the Republican budget passes.
According to the Vermont Democrat, ending the Affordable Care Act would leave 16 million people without healthcare and making “massive cuts of 40 million [dollars] off of Medicaid” would result in an additional 11 million people without health insurance for a total of 27 million.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., related his remarks on the budget to the Alzheimer’s Association lobbying that was taking place Wednesday throughout the House and Senate buildings.
“If you have someone seriously ill in your family who’s in a nursing home with no money left in this world, it’s Medicaid and Medicare that keeps them alive while on Social Security,” said Durbin. “So when you bring this down to family level – working families across America – it really is a budget that is insensitive and unaware of the reality of life on working families.”
Other opponents of the Republican budget focused on tax breaks for the wealthy and decreases in Pell Grant funding for college students.
“The Republican budget says to America you’re going to be working even harder, but we’re going to squeeze you even more today and we’re not going to invest in our kids’ future and the future of America,” said Van Hollen.