Public Policy News

CSWE Call to Action on FY 2018 Budget Request

On May 30, CSWE President and CEO Darla Spence Coffey sent out a call to voluntary action for CSWE members interested in contacting members of Congress to share concerns regarding President Trump’s budget request and its implications for social work education. Specifically, the call to action highlighted the following:
  • Reductions to critical safety-net programs: The budget request includes reductions to or elimination of important programs that support communities, families, individuals, and children. For example, the budget request would eliminate the social services block grant to states, which helps some of the most vulnerable children and adults in the United States. The budget request also includes substantial cuts to programs such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. CSWE feels strongly that the Trump Administration cannot turn its back on communities and vulnerable individuals by slashing funding for critical safety-net programs.
  • Elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for new borrowers: The budget request would also eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which encourages graduates to work in public service in exchange for full federal loan forgiveness after 10 years. The Department of Education has stated that there is a grandfathering provision for individuals already enrolled in the program.
  • Elimination of funding for social work education and training programs: The president’s FY 2018 budget request eliminates almost all funding for Title VII health professions programs at the Health Resources and Service Administration. This includes funding for programs that help train social workers and other health professionals in geriatrics through the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. Funding for the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training grant, which has supported more than 4,000 social work students, would also be eliminated. Funding for the Minority Fellowship Program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would be reduced by $22,000, compared to the FY 2017 omnibus level.
  • Reduction in support for critical federal student aid programs: The budget request proposes reducing funding for the Federal Work Study program by $489.7 million, which would cut funding nearly in half.
  • Consolidation of repayment plans for new borrowers into one plan that strongly disadvantages graduate borrowers: The budget request proposes replacing the current income-driven repayment plans with a single plan starting with new loans originating on July 1, 2018. The plan would increase the cap for repayment to 12.5% for borrowers, to be repaid over 15 years for undergraduates and over 30 years for graduate borrowers. While increasing the monthly percentage, the proposed plan would decrease the number of years available to undergraduate borrowers to pay back their loans and would increase the number of years for graduate borrowers.
  • Significantly reduces investments in biomedical research: The president’s FY 2018 budget request would reduce funding for the NIH by $7.2 billion (21%).  In addition to basic biomedical research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds vital social and behavioral science research, which is necessary to better address the needs of high-risk populations, including children and racial-, ethnic-minority, and geriatric populations.  This comes immediately after Congress increased funding for NIH through the 21st Century Cures Act, demonstrating significant bipartisan support for biomedical and health-related research investments.
Contact information for members of Congress can be found in the House of Representatives and Senate member directories. Make sure to include your name and e-mail address so you may receive a response.
  • Writing a Letter or an E-mail: Correspondence by e-mail is preferred over regular postal mail for communicating with members of Congress.  We recommend visiting your representative’s or senator’s website to find an e-mail contact form. Your e-mail should be brief and to the point. Feel free to use the template here and include some of your personal background.
  • Making a Telephone Call: When preparing to call members of Congress, craft your message clearly and concisely; you have less time to make your case on the telephone than if you communicate by e-mail. It is always helpful to write a short script of what you would like to say.  Again, feel free to use the template. Note that when calling, you may ask to speak with the representative or senator directly, but you will probably be asked to leave a message with a staff member. Be prepared with a clear message. You can also ask to leave a message on the appropriate staff voicemail or leave a message and request a return call. Be prepared to provide your address and telephone number.
In addition to using the House and Senate websites to obtain senators’ and representatives’ office phone numbers, you can call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 1-202-224-3121, provide your legislator’s name, and ask to be connected with his or her office.