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Latino Daily News

Sunday April 10, 2011

Senators Host First Hispanic Task Force Meeting of the 112th Congress

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Hispanic Task Force, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), Chair of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, outlined the impact that the Republicans’ budget cuts would have on the nation’s Hispanic community, especially in the areas of health, education, and economic prosperity. The Senators hosted the first Hispanic Task Force meeting of 2011 with Democratic Senators and Hispanic Leaders from across the country to discuss priorities for the 112th Congress.

At the meeting, National and local Hispanic leaders had the opportunity to voice their concerns and ideas on the ongoing budget negotiations and the issues important to Hispanics across the country. Among other programs, the extreme GOP cuts would harm the 400,000 Latino children in Head Start, the 59 percent of Women with Infant and Children beneficiaries who are Hispanic, and over 1 million Latino college students who depend on Pell Grants.

Senator Menendez said, “Show me your budget, and I’ll show you your values. Republicans have shown us that issues important the Latino community –strong schools, safe communities, and new good-paying jobs – are not a concern for them. Democrats believe the Hispanic community is a priority, our budget invests in their future, and we will continue to fight on behalf Hispanics across our country.”

A record number of 14 Democratic Senators participated in the meeting, including: Chairman of the Hispanic Task Force Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Daniel Akaka (D- HI), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Senator Mark Udall (D-NM), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

In summary: Impact of Proposed FY2011 Funding Cuts on the Latino Community
* Cuts to Head Start directly impact underserved communities
* Cuts to the Women with Infants and Children (WIC) program will heavily impact many Latino families’ abilities to meet their nutritional needs
* Massive cuts will impact Latinos’ access to higher education: over 1 million Latino college students depend on Pell Grants to pay for their higher education.
* Cuts will hurt the 1.14 million Latino Veterans
* Cuts endanger Hispanic Health Services of Latinos - Hispanics largest group among uninsured, with 389% without coverage
* Cuts to USDA’s Commodity Assistance Program will endanger the health of vulnerable low-income Latinos at the time of most need;
* Cuts to EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Air Act will put Latinos at significant increased risk with 72% of all Hispanics living in areas not meeting air pollution standards,
* Cuts to the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) will deprive the most vulnerable in society of food and shelter.
* Cuts to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of University Programs will hamper college and university involvement in Latino community development.