House Republicans Propose Deep Cuts for Health, Labor Agencies

June 26, 2024 11:57 am

  • Reducing money to enforce child labor rules, workplace safety
  • Abortion access targeted anew by Republican lawmakers

House Republicans are proposing to take away billions of dollars from health care and social programs and slash funding in their budget plans for agencies responsible for enforcing worker protection laws.

The party’s appropriators unveiled Wednesday a $185.8 billion Labor-HHS-Education bill for fiscal 2025, which amounts to 11%, below current effective funding levels. The Department of Health and Human Services would receive $8.5 billion—or 7%—less in the next fiscal year while the Labor Department would shrink by 23%.

This particular spending package, typically controversial given the partisan divisions over social policy, didn’t even make it to a full Appropriations Committee vote last year given its deep cuts and programmatic changes. Republicans this year have proposed cuts that aren’t nearly as steep, but would still gut some federal programs.

Some policy riders that split lawmakers remain: Federal programs to research climate change, provide sex education, and gun violence would end under the bill. Planned Parenthood would be banned from receiving federal family planning grants.

Some health agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, would see relatively stable funding under the proposal while others, namely the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would face a steep cut. The CDC would lose about 22% of the agency’s $9 billion budget.

Despite the opposition to such large funding cuts, Republican appropriators say they’re confident in their proposal.

This bill “provides needed resources to agencies for administering vital programs, while also reining in reckless and wasteful spending,” the bill’s author, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), said in a statement. “While we still have a ways to go, I believe this bill lays a strong foundation for the path to transparency and fiscal responsibility.”

Cuts to Labor Enforcement

Labor Department officials have long said the agency needs more money to enforce the nation’s labor laws. But they are getting no sympathy from House Republicans, who are looking to reduce federal spending and have expressed opposition to the department’s regulatory moves.

The National Labor Relations Board, a separate agency that enforces laws related to unionizing, would also be massively underfunded in the bill as Republicans say it has ruled mostly in favor of unions. The proposal would deal a $99 million cut to the NLRB in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

The main enforcer of child labor laws, the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, would get $25 million less in the next fiscal year despite agency leaders saying they need more money to fight the dramatic rise in children working illegally.

Republicans are also proposing to cut the budget of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in charge of workplace safety laws, by 12%, reducing it to $557.8 million.

Meanwhile, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, in charge of enforcing worker benefits laws, would get $181 million, a $10 million cut in the next fiscal year.