Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, we just heard a terrible cry on behalf of the wealthy in the United States, that top 2 percent. Tax them, and it will kill jobs, put people out of work.
If you want to know the real victims of sequestration, the real victims of the Republican fight to protect that 2 percent at all costs, it's the homeless, it's the poor, it's the lower income, and it's the vulnerable amongst us.
Most of the debate up until now about the fiscal cliff has focused on defense cuts and expiring tax cuts justifiably, but the ramifications for local safety nets are equally portentous. In my district, for example, Fairfax County recently kicked off its annual hypothermia prevention program. During my tenure on the county board, I worked with faith, business, and community leaders to open houses of worship and other places to offer shelter from the cold and a hot meal for the homeless, individuals, and families. It saves lives.
Last winter, the program served more than 1,000 clients in one of the wealthiest districts in the United States. Sequestration threatens support for this and other Federal homeless prevention efforts. The McKinney-Vento homeless prevention program would be cut by as much as $156 million. You didn't hear anything about that just now.
You didn't hear anything about that just now, and it would leave more than 145,000 more people out in the cold and at risk of dying from hypothermia.
Similarly, families in every State rely on low-income heating assistance, which stands to lose as much as $270 million in sequestration. That may not seem like much, but that program has already been cut by the Republicans by 30 percent. Millions of Americans in every State rely on this support, including 145,000 in my home State of Virginia.
The picture gets even worse when you look at the looming cuts to Federal housing assistance. Programs like the Community Development Block Grants, section 8 housing, and rental assistance for the needy and senior citizens already have sustained dramatic cuts over the last 2 years under Republican control. The HOME Investment Partnership Program, which supports homeownership and rental assistance, was cut by more than $600 million, or 38 percent, last year alone. It faces another $82 million cut in sequestration. Prince William County, in my district, was one of the hardest-hit by foreclosures, and it has an acute shortage of affordable housing right now. Cuts in Federal housing support would further exacerbate that situation just as the local housing market is beginning to recover.
There is an old proverb about someone always getting ``left out in the cold,'' but in this case, people literally will be left out in the cold if we allow sequestration to go forward.
Mr. Speaker, the cuts in housing assistance are just one piece of the local safety net threatened by sequestration. I recently met with the disability community in my district, and they, too, are anxious about losing the vital support that allows disabled loved ones to live independently. One local organization, for example, is providing work opportunities and rehabilitative services to more than 650 disabled adults in our community. Whether it's performing custodial services, packing medical kits for our troops, working in food services or other duties, these Ability One workers are making a positive difference in providing autonomy for individuals in our community. I and many of my colleagues here in the House, both Democrats and Republicans, are Ability One champions, and we know firsthand the positive effect this program has had, not only on the individuals, but on their families and their friends.
Employment opportunities for the disabled and revenue from their work reached an all-time high last year, but that momentum is at risk because of looming cuts through sequestration. Community service boards, for example, could lose as much as $52 million, which would reduce services for more than 1.5 million people in America. You heard my colleague talk about maybe a few hundred thousand jobs being at risk if we cut taxes for the rich. What about these people? What about the real cuts and real effects on real people in America?
What has been troubling to the residents of my district is the fact that, up until now, the Republican alternative to these cuts has been to shift even more of the burden, not less, onto the social safety net programs. The sequestration replacement bill, which was pushed through earlier by House Republicans, cuts $261 billion from safety net programs. It eliminates social service block grants, which support Meals on Wheels for 1.7 million seniors. Where is the concern for that? It also provides child care assistance for low-income parents who are returning to work. That plan cut $36 billion in nutrition assistance for at-risk families. In my district, the demand for nutrition assistance has jumped by 135 percent since the recession, and it has gone up by 73 percent in the Commonwealth of Virginia during that same time period.
Mr. Speaker, we cannot afford to turn our backs on these families. Sequestration is a real threat. We need to have a compromise and a deal now to help these families.