Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) today voted against a piecemeal, partisan spending bill that would eliminate access to reproductive rights for many women while increasing defense spending. The bill authorizes non-defense spending for one week and defense spending for the remainder of the fiscal year.
"We can't run the government week-by-week any longer--we need a complete spending plan for the federal government, and we need it now," Himes said. "I'm willing to consider just about any reasonable cut, but today's bill was a cynical ploy by the Majority that demonstrates they are not serious about solving our nation's fiscal problems or preventing a shutdown. They avoid cutting defense, cuts even Sec. Gates has supported, and are using the fear of a government shutdown to attempt to sneak through an assault on women's reproductive rights. The Speaker needs to join the adult conversation about the budget and cooperate in a genuine attempt to reach a compromise the majority of Americans can support."
There is broad support for cuts to defense spending as part of any effort to reduce the federal deficit, yet today's bill increases defense spending by two percent.
Today's defense appropriations bill also contained language not associated with spending in the form of "policy riders," provisions that traditionally have not been permitted in appropriations bills. The legislation considered today contained two such requirements, lumping together the women of the District of Columbia and Guantanamo Bay detainees. It prohibits the District of Columbia from spending its own local taxpayer-raised funds on abortions for low-income women and also prohibits the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees.
"These provisions have nothing to do with the budget, would not do a thing to reduce the deficit, and won't save the government a dime," Himes said. "It's time for the Speaker to stop allowing the Tea Party to hijack the government and to have an honest discussion about federal spending."
Himes has worked and voted across party lines to cut billions in spending. In this year alone, he has already supported over $11 billion in cuts to redundant and outdated programs. Last year, he co-founded the Spending Cuts and Deficit Reduction Work Group and proposed over $70 billion in specific cuts. Additionally, Himes crossed party lines over a dozen times to join Republicans in supporting an investigation into the connection between earmarks and campaign contributions. Finally, Himes has been supportive of the work of the Simpson-Bowles Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which put forth a plan to balance the federal budget by 2014 and reduce the debt to 60% of GDP by 2023.