Earlier this month Congressman Steve Cohen (Tennessee 9th District) met with United Way volunteers and staff, as well as representatives from partner nonprofit agencies in midtown Memphis to discuss a proposed 5% cut (which he does not support) in federal funding.
Cohen encouraged nonprofit agencies to be more vocal about this type of issue and be supportive of each other when it comes to state and federal advocacy. He appreciated the opportunity to hear from his constituents on issues concerning the entire community, especially those who perform health and human service work that is partly funded by federal dollars. Cohen also discussed some of the additional impact of “sequesters,” which are now beginning to take place. These sequesters, he said, will have an impact on our daily lives.
United Way board member and volunteer Jim Pleiman, who leads the public policy committee for United Way, shared concerns with the congressman about providing services when there is uncertainty about funding based on budget concerns and sequesters.
“We (volunteers and agencies) want to make sure we work together, trying to serve the people in our community, the government, the private sector – and connect everybody together,” Pleiman said.
Cohen and United Way staff discussed some of the coming federal budget cuts, cuts that are already in place and some identifiable challenges ahead. The congressman emphasized the importance of nonprofit agencies to help and rely on each other.
“I had polio in 1969 and I certainly don’t want to see people in need of services not receiving the help they need,” Cohen said. “But today, it is the job creators and job regulators that are putting the burden on our children for years to come.”
“I understand that you are all trying to reach out,” Cohen said, “and I’m all for that. That is one thing you are going to have to be open to doing when these cuts do happen.”