With city funding for senior citizen programs still up in the air, Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) said Monday that proposed funding cuts that came out of the House Ways and Means Committee last week will be dead on arrival once they leave the House of Representatives.
Speaking Monday at the Elmhurst Jackson Heights Senior Center on Broadway, Crowley said the federal Social Services Block Grant program currently provides more than $63 million to the city for senior centers, domestic violence and adult protective services.
The committee’s GOP majority passed measures on that would, among other cuts, eliminate the grants.
“They won’t pass in the Senate, and President Obama would not sign them if they did,” Crowley said before more than 100 people at the senior center.
He accused the GOP of using social spending to balance the budget by proposing radical cuts to services. He acknowledged that spending cuts must be on the table, but not those.
“I understand that we need to fix the budget and address the deficit,” Crowley said. “But I don’t consider this discretionary spending. You can’t balance the budget on the back of the most vulnerable among us while protecting tax cuts for the rich.”
Commissioner Lillian Barrios-Paoli, of the city’s Department for the Aging, said the cuts proposed in Congress would have immediate and dire impact.
“If you lose one-third of your funding, one third of the senior centers would close,” she said. “There’s no way around that.”
She and Crowley said such centers are the only places where many seniors get exercise and health programs, assistance with myriad paperwork and in the case of the Elmhurst Jackson Heights Senior center, their only hot meal of the day.
“The costs of shutting down would far outweigh any savings,” she said.