Sequester Impactby Senator Patty Murray
Posted on 2013-02-27
MURRAY. How much time remains on our side?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority has 2 minutes remaining.
Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I have come today to join the other Appropriations subcommittee chairs to really implore the Senate and this country to take a look at what will happen if sequestration occurs.
In just one day, unless Republicans drop their opposition to our compromise bill, sequestration will be a reality.
Now, we have heard from a wide range of economists and other experts about how harmful these cuts will be to our economy. They will hurt job creation, reduce our economic growth, and impact the most vulnerable among us.
According to HUD, the cuts required under sequestration would put 125,000 tenants at immediate risk of losing their housing vouchers, leaving low-income residents facing higher rents, eviction or homelessness.
At the same time, communities would be left with fewer ways to help the homeless.
In fact, the cuts would place formerly homeless people back on the streets, since HUD estimates that the cuts would threaten housing or access to emergency shelter for 100,000 people.
Sequestration will also disrupt some of the most fundamental work of our government, such as its management of the air transportation system.
Every year, U.S. airlines carry hundreds of millions of passengers, many of them travelling for business or tourism. And our aviation system carries freight valued at hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
This is possible because the FAA is a world leader in managing air traffic and protecting the safety of our skies.
These cuts will force them to furlough their entire workforce, including each and every air traffic controller and safety inspector.
With these furloughs, we can expect that every FAA facility and every air traffic control tower will be short-staffed every day of the week through the rest of this fiscal year.
In order to protect the safety of our skies, they will be forced to reduce the level of air traffic.
For these reasons and so many more, sequestration is the wrong answer to the fiscal challenges facing the country.
The cuts will hurt the most vulnerable in our society, and it will hurt our ability to compete in the global economy.
There is no question that we must address our deficit, but we must be smart about how we do it.
That is why Democrats have put forward a credible, responsible plan to replace sequestration.
Our legislation builds on the precedent set in the year-end deal, and it is in line with the balanced approach the American people favor.
It would replace half of the first year of sequestration with responsible spending cuts, and half of it with revenue from those who can afford it most.
Our bill calls on the wealthiest Americans to pay at least the same marginal tax rate on their income as middle-class families pay, and would eliminate needless tax breaks for oil and gas companies and companies shipping jobs overseas.
At the same time, it would make responsible cuts.
Our bill would eliminate direct payments to farmers that have been paid out even during good times, and for crops farmers were not even growing.
And as the drawdown from Afghanistan is completed, our bill will make adjustments to our military that are in line with a strong 21st century strategy.
This legislation meets Republicans halfway.
It would protect the families and communities we represent from slower economic growth, fewer jobs, and weakened national defense.
And it would allow us to move past sequestration, towards working on a fair, comprehensive budget deal that provides certainty for American families and businesses.
So I would like to ask my Republican colleagues to seriously consider our proposal.
The American people want a balanced deal. Let's deliver.
We have heard people talk about job creation being impacted, reducing our economic growth, impacting the most vulnerable among us. In my subcommittee that oversees transportation and housing, we are going to see incredible impacts. HUD housing would have to put 125,000 tenants at immediate risk of losing their housing vouchers and putting them back on the streets at a time when we are just starting to really focus on our veterans and that growing number of veterans who are on our streets and making an impact across the spectrum. We will see a huge impact on housing.
On the transportation side, every sector we oversee will be impacted. We have heard a lot of talk about our U.S. airlines. They carry hundreds of millions of passengers every year. It is a huge impact on our economy. Our FAA is a world leader in managing air traffic and protecting the safety of our skies. These cuts will force the FAA to literally furlough every single employee and impact our air traffic control and safety systems.
It does not have to be this way. The Senate majority has put forward a very balanced approach to replace sequester, and in the longer term, as budget chair, we are working now to bring to the Senate a 10-year budget plan that will replace sequestration in a responsible way, work us to a manageable debt and deficit, and invest in our country again so we can grow. Let's get out of this crisis-management mode, pass a replacement to sequestration in the short term that we have offered, [[Page S887]] and get back to the regular order in the Senate. That means our country can get back to managing their families and their businesses and communities in a responsible way. We can do that by voting to put in place our replacement. I urge our colleagues to do that tomorrow morning when we have a chance to vote on that.