Hoyer: We Ought To Be Mitigating The Whole Impact Of The Sequester

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Transcript: 

“I rise in opposition to this piece of legislation.

“The editorial board of USA Today was scathing yesterday in its assessment of where the blame for this sequester should lie. And I quote: ‘No Members of Congress should be surprised at the havoc brought by the sequester. After all, they caused it, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood repeatedly warned them about its consequences.’

"But flight delays are just the tip of the iceberg, visible above the waterline for most Americans, and as time goes on, without a big balanced deficit solution to replace the sequester, more of that iceberg will surface, more Americans will be negatively affected.

“While I want to end these delays for passengers in Maryland and across the country, I will oppose this bill because it fails to address the whole impact of sequester. Let me share just a handful of examples of how the sequester will affect Americans.

“Education: Head Start, 70,000 children will be kicked out of Head Start. Nothing in this bill deals with them. Furloughs to cause delays in processing retirement for disability claims – nothing in this bill deals with them. Four million fewer Meals on Wheels for seniors. 600,000 people dropped off WIC – nothing in here for them. Housing: 125,000 less HUD rental assistant vouchers – nothing in here for them. Emergency unemployment insurance cut 11% for two million out-of-work Americans – nothing in here for them. FDA: 2,100 fewer food safety inspectors, an 18% cut – nothing in here for them. Longer waits to approve new drugs – nothing in here for them. Defense and homeland security: furloughs equivalent to 1,000 fewer federal agents, FBI, border, etc., on the job; one third of combat air units are grounded – nothing in here for them. 89,000 agency-wide furloughs in IRS, up to seven days, including taxpayer assistance centers – nothing in here for them. They serve 89,000 taxpayers trying to find help. [Note: Rep. Hoyer misspoke – the figure is 97 million taxpayers.]

“We ought not to be mitigating the sequester's effect on just one segment when children, the sick, our military and many other groups who will be impacted by this irresponsible policy are left unhelped. Instead of dressing this serious wound with a small band-aid, let's get to work on a real solution, let's go to conference, let's get a big deal, let's deal with all the adverse consequences of sequester, not just those that affect the powerful air travelers of America. We ought to help them, but we ought to help everybody else as well.”