Here are a few items that were left on the cutting room floor after the Senate got its hands on the $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act legislation. While the debate rages on Capitol Hill over provisions in the massive bills, some of these cuts have real implications for the Black community against the face of 12.6 percent unemployment. Not all of the news is bad because some items have been slightly reduced while others have been reframed. Still, the cuts detailed below, if left out of the final bill, will represent a missed opportunity to expedite the economic recovery for Black households and the community at large.
State Fiscal Relief
Despite the pleas of Democratic and Republican governors alike, state aid was reduced by $40 billion the Senate bill. These monies would be used by states to offset rising costs in a number of areas, including providing relief to cash strapped cities.
College Work Study
The House version of the bill included $490 million for college work study programs that was left out of the Senate bill.
Higher Education Repair and Modernization
The House bill included $6 billion for modernization, renovation and repair of facilities at institutions of higher education. These funds would be particularly useful to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The original Senate version had $3.5 billion for this item but it was struck in the compromise bill that was approved.
The allocation for Pell Grants was reduced in the Senate bill to $13.869 billion from $15.636 billion in the House version of the legislation.
Public School Modernization
The House version allocated $14 billion for projects that could include health and safety repairs, facility modifications to provide access for disabled students, educational technology infrastructure upgrades, as well as projects to improve energy efficiency. The amount for modernization aid was initially increased to $16 billion in the Senate bill but was eliminated completely.
The Senate bill stripped $200 million in funding for the AmeriCorps program that has been included in the House bill.
Early Head Start
The Senate bill reduced the amount for the expansion of Early Head Start from $1.1 billion in the House bill to $550 million. A total of $1.05 billion has been designated for the Head Start program in the Senate bill, down from a total of $2.1 billion in the House version.
Public Health Prevention and Wellness
The Senate bill strips $2.35 billion for prevention and wellness activities by the Centers for Disease and Control that included $335 million for domestic HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD’s, and tuberculosis prevention programs, $954 million for immunization programs, and $30 million for public health workforce development activities. The Senate bill does include $400 million for testing and prevention of HIV and STD’s, and $750 million for additional vaccinations.
Neighborhood Stabilization Program
The House version designated $4.19 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. That figure was initially reduced to $2.25 billion and was completely eliminated in the final bill passed by the Senate.
Employment and Training Administration
The House bill included $4 billion for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Training and Employment Services. That figure was shaved down to $3.25 billion but $1.2 billion remained intact for state grants for youth to support summer employment programs, and the age of eligibility was raised to 24 from 21.