At a time when high costs continue to stress family budgets, we should be doing everything we can to help people afford essentials and provide the stability they need to flourish.

If the far-right House Republican proposal to slash funding for the Women Infants and Children nutrition program passes, more than 18,000 Maine women, children and infants would see their monthly allotment for fresh fruits and vegetables drop from $44 to $13. Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Unfortunately, a handful of far-right Republican House members in Washington are seeking to do the exact opposite by advancing policies that will deny food to infants and toddlers, reduce the number of preschoolers in Head Start programs, slash the number of teachers in public schools and terminate youth job training and college affordability programs. 

By using the threat of government shutdown to push their extreme agenda, the actions of a small number of House members in the Republican caucus negate the bipartisan agreement from earlier this year to hold spending at current levels and will hurt Maine people and our economy. 

Imagine cutting access to food for pregnant women, infants and toddlers. That’s exactly what the House Republican proposal to slash funding for the Women Infants and Children nutrition program will do. More than 18,000 Maine women, children and infants will see their monthly allotment for fresh fruits and vegetables go from as much as $44 to $13. That’s food that can address basic human needs and help ensure that Maine’s youngest generation is ready to thrive now and in the future. 

The harmful cuts don’t stop there. One set of Republican proposals would deny 200 Maine preschoolers access to Head Start, a program that when adequately funded has been proven to improve the social, behavioral and cognitive development of children. K-12 schools, especially those with students in families with low incomes, will be hurt, too. A proposed 80% cut to the Title I program could reduce funding for schools across Maine by as much as $42 million. The White House estimates this could result in 700 educators losing their jobs at a time when schools across Maine are already facing staffing challenges. For rural communities, where job losses have a more pronounced impact on local economies and where school funding cuts can’t easily be made up by increasing property taxes, this would be a double whammy.  

House Republican proposals would even make it harder for Mainers to enter the labor force or improve their employment situation by totally eliminating major training programs and denying job training to 400 young adults and 900 adults in Maine. They are also proposing to eliminate the nearly 60-year-old federal Work-Study Program that many students, including 6,700 Maine college students, rely on to pay for college.  

When we invest in the things that provide opportunity for people throughout their lives, more families and communities have a fair chance at a better future, and we grow a stronger economy. Current proposals from a handful of far-right Republican House members in Washington would do just the opposite. 

It is stunning that at a time when hunger is growing, a handful of House Republicans are pushing policies that would take food away from infants, toddlers, and pregnant women. It is equally shocking that when our children need to make up education losses, their proposals would slash Head Start and K-12 education and close the door for young people to get job training and work their way through college. 

And if House Republicans are unable to move past this extreme brinkmanship, the resulting government shutdown would result in other impacts that are equally concerning. These include up to 11,000 Maine federal workers being furloughed or expected to work without pay and access to federal programs including applications for small business loans, home mortgages, and passports grinding to a halt. 

As colder months approach and as many Mainers continue to struggle with high costs of energy, food, housing, medicine and other necessities, Maine families are counting on our members of Congress to reject these extreme proposals, and to meet needs instead of making things worse. 

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