A refresher on the federal budget process

8 mins read

The direction of a nation—its very soul—is determined by what it spends its money on. Appropriations season has begun in the House and Senate. Congress should now be engaged in an earnest review of President Biden’s budget and in drafting appropriations bills for FY2024. Our federal government will eventually be funded by appropriation bills or continuing resolutions (CRs). It will be a long, arduous, complicated process with victories and defeats that may well continue into next year. 

But instead of attending to serious business, House Republicans indulged in MAGA posturing, presenting outrageous bills to pander to bigots and anti-government radicals.

One recent heinous example is H.R. 5, which they call the “Parents’ Bill of Rights Act.” This is a proposal to censor the contents of school libraries and require schools to “obtain parental consent” before (1) updating a minor child’s gender markers, pronouns, or name on school forms or (2) allowing a child to change the child’s sex-based accommodations. The practical effect of such a bill would be, first, to deny that transgender children exist, including denying to the kids themselves that they could be trans; and second, to require schools to out trans kids to their parents. Some parents love and accept their children no matter who they turn out to be, but some don’t, and those paren​​ts may try to force the child back into the closet, kick them out to the street, put them into anti-trans torture programs (which bill themselves as “conversion therapy”), or otherwise harm them.

Another Republican MAGA bill, from earlier in March, was H.R. 25, which they called the “Fair Tax Act.” This one would replace our progressive income tax with a regressive thirty-percent national sales tax (which taxes necessities rather than income or wealth) and sunset the IRS itself after 2027. On March 23, we watched Republicans defend their anti-gun-regulation bill H.R. 374, which demands that the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) be abolished. 

House Democrats have made great floor speeches opposing these and more MAGA travesties. 

The Indivisible movement exists to mobilize and enhance our voices so that we have some say in what kind of nation we are—and will become. Now is the time for us to begin contacting the White House and our members of Congress about spending decisions. We’ll need to continue doing so over the coming months. Last week we offered up our call script for that purpose. This week we’re presenting a Deep Dive as a resource to make it easier to follow the appropriations process.

How to support Pajaro farm workers suffering devastating losses from a levee break in March

The March storms have severely harmed our regional neighbors in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. A disaster struck the town of Pajaro, California when a levee broke on March 11 and the Pajaro River flooded this farmworker community, forcing more than 2,000 people to evacuate. Now residents are starting to return, but they have lost most of their possessions, they have a lot of repair and restoration to do, and their livelihood is at great risk. They face a long and difficult recovery.

FEMA assistance has not yet been granted, but as we were going to press, we learned that Governor Newsom submitted the Major Disaster Declaration request TODAY to President Biden. As the Santa Cruz Lookout notes, “It’s no debate, however, that when public infrastructure fails so dramatically, the public sector, i.e. government, should relieve that harm.” We’re grateful that FEMA assistance might soon be on its way.

In the meantime, there are many groupson the ground providing cash, clothing, food, and cleanup supplies to the victims of this disaster, and they could use your financial support:

Public comment to end penalties on SSI beneficiaries receiving food aid

Currently, around 5 million people who are impoverished, disabled, or seniors rely on the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) administered by the Social Security Administration. This income amounts to $914 a month, but can be reduced by about a third if a beneficiary is receiving food aid. This is because food aid is considered “in-kind support and maintenance” (ISM).

The Social Security Administration is proposing a rule change that would remove food from ISM, so that SSI beneficiaries are not penalized for getting help with food.

Submit a Public Comment Directly at the Federal Register. Comments are due by April 17, 2023.

Lawyer and advocate Matthew Cortland made a blog post on Patreon explaining the details of this rule change and how to most effectively comment on it. Remember, comments written in your own words are the most effective.

If you’re interested in participating in activities like drafting letters to our Members of Congress and developing our strategy for influencing them, the Indivisible SF Federal Working Group is where it happens.

Indivisible SF Federal Working Group: Thursday, April 13, 7:30–9 PM. Planning meeting where we discuss strategy to influence our Members of Congress and the Biden administration to enact a progressive agenda. Meeting starts promptly at 7:30 PM. All are welcome. Register here!

Virtual Phone Banks to Flip the Wisconsin Supreme Court with Call 4 Change: Sunday, April 2, 3–5 PM. Phone Bank with Call 4 Change and help us flip the Supreme Court election Wisconsin in April. RSVP on Mobilize.

SURJ SF Dialogues: Sunday, April 2, 12–1 PM. SURJ SF Dialogues invites you to join us in a year-long exploration of the SURJ Values so we can reflect, grow, and continue working toward personal and collective liberation in alliance with BIPOC. Sign up for this bimonthly event via EveryAction.
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About this week’s photo

If you’ve seen our newsletter posts on Twitter and Facebook, you might have noticed that we include a photo or graphic with each issue.

Today’s image is a screengrab of the front page of the White House budget proposal for fiscal year 2024.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Since the January 2017, more than 4,000 San Franciscans have united as Indivisible SF to march in the Women's Marches, protest the Muslim Ban, meet regularly with our Members of Congress, and make thousands of phone calls to their offices to pressure them to do everything in their power to counter the policies and politics of Trumpism. There is much work in progress and many actions to come.

Members of Indivisible SF are defined by our action and find solidarity in our shared opposition to Trump and Trumpism. Each of us explicitly reserves our individual stances on specific issues for other forums as we believe resisting Trump is more important than any single issue. We adhere to a Code of Conduct that welcomes and respects everybody.

Members of Indivisible SF come from all kinds of backgrounds and political persuasions. Some of us are first-time activists and others have been at this for decades. We are citizens and non-citizens. Most importantly, we are all patriots that want the best for our country and are willing to work for it.

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