Mayors criticize House budget cuts as 'hypocritical' and 'un-American'
Updated: 2:50 p.m.
A bipartisan group of thirty mayors from around the country on Thursday announced its opposition to the resolution passed by the House last week that would cut $61 billion in federal spending, blasting the measure as devastating to children, seniors, the poor and others.
Particularly distressing about the funding resolution, the mayors said at a news conference in Washington, is that it would cut Community Development Block Grant funding by more than 62 percent. Mayors praised the block grant program, which is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as "the most important federal investment to job creation and neighborhood revitalization in local communities."
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Democrat who is running for re-election in 2011, called the House-passed funding measure "outrageous," "unacceptable" and "literally un-American."
"It attacks senior citizens; it attacks children; it attacks working people; it stops jobs and economic development in cities all across the United States of America," Nutter said of the spending measure. "I have no idea what is going on in the minds of some who have now gotten elected on rhetoric and are trying to govern with that same rhetoric. You cannot run a country while attacking its own people."
Opponents of the House-passed measure also included Republican mayors. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who is also the president of the Republican Mayors and Local Officials organization, charged that the funding measure showed Washington lawmakers don't have their priorities straight.
"It's hypocritical for elected officials in Washington to say they value cities, they value the economy and they value jobs and then you create a stimulus package and send it to the states, where it never reaches the cities," Cornett said. "It's hypocritical to say you value the economy and cities and jobs and then go make drastic cuts to great programs like Community Development Block Grants, which we know have great discretionary opportunity to go exactly where they're needed in our community."
He later added that "it's a little bit lame" to hear Washington lawmakers say they have tough choices to make when mayors have to make decisions that are every bit as difficult.
The mayors said that they may organize a march on the Capitol building next month if they aren't satisfied with the progress Congress is making on addressing the cuts.
Led by Burnsville, Minn., Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, the U.S. Conference of Mayors delegation had been holding closed-door sessions this week in which mayors were crafting an appeal to the Senate to restore funding to the block grant program.
The mayors also planned to discuss other programs that would be affected by the cuts, including homeland security grants, workforce training grants, community health centers, education, high speed rail and public housing.
Both chambers are doing battle over the measure to continue funding the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in September. Senate Democrats have signaled that the House-passed funding resolution is a non-starter in the upper chamber, contending that its cuts are too deep.
The measure currently funding the government expires March 4, giving lawmakers little time to come to an agreement on a longer-term spending resolution and pointing toward the likelihood of a stop-gap funding measure in order to avoid a government shutdown.
But even the topic of a short-term funding resolution has been a contentious one; House Republicans are crafting a measure that would cut $4 billion over two weeks, but that idea was rejected Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Here is full list of mayors participating in this week's meeting:
Burnsville (MN) Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz, president, U.S. Conference of Mayors
Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, second vice president, U.S. Conference of Mayors
Salt Lake City (UT) Mayor Ralph Becker
Elizabeth (NJ) Mayor Christian Bollwage
Carmel (IN) Mayor James Brainard
West Sacramento (CA) Mayor Christopher Cabaldon
Columbus (OH) Mayor Michael Coleman
Hallandale Beach (FL) Mayor Joy Cooper
Oklahoma City (OK) Mayor Mick Cornett
Alexandria (VA) Mayor William Euille
Charlotte (NC) Mayor Anthony Foxx
San Marcos (TX) Mayor Daniel Guerrero
North Little Rock (AR) Mayor Patrick Henry Hays
Jackson (MS) Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr.
Southfield (MI) Mayor Brenda Lawrence
Chattanooga (TN) Mayor Ron Littlefield
Cincinnati (OH) Mayor Mark Mallory
Tallahassee (FL) Mayor John Marks
Sumter (SC) Mayor Joseph McElveen
Syracuse (NY) Mayor Stephanie Miner
North Miami (FL) Mayor Andre Pierre
Santa Ana (CA) Mayor Miguel Pulido
Atlanta (GA) Mayor Kasim Reed
Macon (GA) Mayor Robert Reichert
Hartford (CT) Mayor Pedro Segarra
Mesa (AZ) Mayor Scott Smith
Little Rock (AR) Mayor Mark Stodola
Schenectady (NY) Mayor Brian Stratton
Gastonia (NC) Mayor Jennie Stultz
Fresno (CA) Mayor Ashley Swearengin
Piscataway (NJ) Mayor Brian Wahler
| February 24, 2011; 2:50 PM ET
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