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Wisconsinites warn of negative outcomes if federal programs are cut

Pie chart depicting expenditure categories
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Pie chart depicting expenditure categories

Congress has one week to approve a new federal spending plan or risk a government shutdown, and some Wisconsinites are calling on lawmakers to keep working families and others in mind when weighing certain programs.

Congress recently approved a continuing resolution to keep the government running until mid-November. But with a new House Speaker in place come renewed concerns Republicans in the lower chamber will press for steep cuts before the latest deadline.

Jordan Anderson, a disability rights advocate from central Wisconsin, worries about accessing disability benefits through Social Security if his job status changes. It is even more pressing for those close to him.

"I have friends that are unable to work," Anderson explained. "They kind of depend on that one check that comes every month, and it's vital to have what they need to buy groceries."

Anderson also worries about water quality in his community, as the House passed an environmental appropriations package to cut spending by 35%. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., and Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., voted for the bill. The lawmakers did not respond to a request for comment, but generally, House GOP members have stressed the need to rein in spending.

Hard-right House members are pushing for cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program under the Farm Bill reauthorization.

Linda Spaulding, a retired community college teacher from Kenosha, said lawmakers need to "read the room," and see how many working families are struggling to get by.

"You're trying to decide, 'Well, do I afford child care or can I afford food on the table?' What are you going to pick?" Spaulding asked.

Bobby Kogan, senior director of federal budget policy at the Center for American Progress, said it is important for the public to know House Republicans have floated cuts some might argue go beyond extreme.

"In the Labor/HHS/Education bill, the House Republicans called for an 80% cut to Title One education," Kogan pointed out. "Which is money that goes to poor school districts to make sure that they can hire teachers."

Lawmakers backing the idea say unspent COVID funding factors into their reasoning.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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