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Groups Ask Reichert to Vote for WA, Against Upcoming Federal Budget Bill; Cite Bill’s Harm to Washington Residents and Arctic

Bellevue, WA: Representing a broad swath of religious, human services, and environmental groups, speakers gathered in Representative Dave Reichert’s district today to highlight how the Congressional Budget endangers Washington residents and misleads consumers. The groups unanimously called on Reichert to stand up for Washington by voting against the budget when it comes to the House floor next week.

The budget bill contains sweeping provisions that would dramatically cut funds and services used by Washington’s families, students, veterans, seniors and people with disabilities.

“This budget would have devastating consequences for people in our state. It takes food off the table of working poor families, cuts their health care, deprives kids of child support payments, jeopardizes the safety of kids in foster care, and places the elderly and disabled at risk,” said Tony Lee with the Moral Budget Coalition, a broad-based coalition advocating a federal budget that ensures the health and well being of all residents. “The budget also threatens $12.5 billion in health care for American veterans living in Washington who have served their country in war. That’s the equivalent of health care for nearly 2,000 veterans.”

“Our state cannot afford to make up the difference for what this budget cuts. By voting against this budget, Representative Reichert can protect Washington residents from misguided decisions being made in the other Washington,” Lee added.

Washington’s housing programs are especially hard hit by cuts proposed in the budget.

“The House budget would push over 500 poor families in Washington out of their homes. Even moderate income families are struggling against the housing bubble. This is a step in the wrong direction," explained Megan Hyla with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

Too many Washington families are struggling against the housing bubble and this budget only exacerbates the problem,” explained Megan Hyla with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

Washington's youth of all backgrounds will be hamstrung by proposed cuts to higher education programs. "For students borrowing up to $20,000 of loans, the proposed budget cuts will cost additional $6,000 during the life of the loan," noted Sandra Schroeder, American Federation of Teachers–Washington.

Budget proponents are trying to justify the cuts as necessary to help rebuild the Gulf Coast in the wake of the hurricanes.

“The spending cuts offset tax cuts, not hurricane relief. Before the hurricanes, Republicans in Congress were planning $176 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy. Now, they’re calling for immense cuts to human services, but won’t rollback the tax cuts. It’s a sham, and Washington State stands to lose,” said Lee.

The budget also contains controversial provisions that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Not only is the drilling bad for the environment, inclusion in the budget misleads Washington’s consumers into thinking they are going to get relief from high gas prices at the pump. Yet, the U.S. Department of Energy’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that even twenty years down the road, when Arctic Refuge oil is at or near peak production, gas prices would be affected by only about a penny per gallon.

“Being a business man, I need to make sound economic decisions. So do consumers. Washington should not be duped into thinking that drilling in the Arctic Refuge will help us. It will only reduce our gas prices by about a penny per gallon, and only when peak production is reached in 20 years,” said Mark Heckert, principal of Puget Sound-area small business, H&S Consulting.

Representative Reichert will vote on the budget bill when it gets to the House floor in the middle of next week. Over 50 Washington State organizations have already asked Reichert to vote against the bill. One Washington State environmental group has hung information on 30 eastside buses highlighting the U.S. Department of Energy’s information.

With all of the harms the budget bill poses to Washington residents and to America’s Arctic Refuge, voting against this bill constitutes a moral act to many.

“Spending decisions are ethical decisions. We call on Representative Reichert to act justly by voting against this budget bill. He can protect all of God’s creation, from veterans who sacrificed for our country, to the elderly in our communities, to the wonders of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” said Reverend Greg Peters, co-vicar of All Saints Episcopal Church–Seattle and member of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia’s Committee for the Environment.

Contacts:

Reverend Greg Peters, All Saints Episcopal Church , (206) 721-0285

·        Tony Lee, Policy Director, Moral Budget Coalition, (206) 694-6700

·        Mark Heckert, H&S Consulting, business owner, (253) 732-6515 cell

·        Sandra Schroeder, American Federation of Teachers–Washington, (206) 242-4777 x15

·        Megan Hyla, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, (206) 442-9455

·        Julie Watts, Statewide Poverty Action Network (206) 579-4338 cell.

·        Thea Levkovitz, Washington Association of Churches, (425) 443-4013 cell.

 

Visuals Available Include:

·        List of nearly 50 Washington organizations opposing the Budget Reconciliation Bill.

·        Photo of advertisement, currently running on 30 Metro buses, urging Representative Reichert to protect the Arctic Refuge.

·        Statement from Representative Reichert opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.