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Public Statements

Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McKEON. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him and Chairman Ryan for bringing this bill to the floor. It is greatly needed.

Barring a new agreement between Congress and the White House on deficit reduction, over $1 trillion in automatic cuts, known as sequestration, will take effect. Although the House has passed a measure that would achieve this necessary deficit reduction to avoid sequestration for a year and give us time to work on it outside of election-year pressure, the Senate has yet to consider any legislation.

Now, I hear a lot of good ideas from the other side and they talk about increased revenue. All I'm saying is put it down on paper.

We have a process by which we work. It's outlined in the Constitution of the United States. One body passes legislation, the other body passes legislation, a conference committee is formed, and the differences are resolved. It goes back to the bodies for final passing and then goes to the President for his signature.

We have taken action in the House. We're waiting for the other body to take some action.

The President weighed in on this. He submitted a budget. His budget sought $1.2 trillion in alternate deficit reduction. He followed the process. That budget was defeated in a bipartisan, bicameral manner. Now, we need another bill that we can work on.

This impasse and lack of a clear way forward has created a chaotic and uncertain budget environment for industry and defense planners. Compounding the issue is a lack of guidance from the administration on how to implement sequestration.

We just held a hearing in the Armed Services Committee where we had industry leaders come in to tell us the problems they're having on getting guidance.

You know, I come from a small business background, nothing like building planes or ships or boats or the other things that our warfighters need to carry out their mission.

And I might remind people that we are at war. We do have warfighters going outside the wire, as we speak, every day, putting their lives on the line, and they're watching this. They're watching what we're doing. They're wondering if they're going to have the things that they need to carry out this mission and to return home safely.

My business, as I said, was a small family business. We were in the western wear business. We sold boots and hats in a retail way. And we would go, my brothers and I, family business, would go to the market in January. We would buy for our needs for the next 6 months. We would buy shirts, hats, jeans, boots. And then our suppliers would go to their suppliers and buy the things they need to make those things, and then they would ship them to us in an orderly manner, and then we would be able to have the product on the shelves when our customers came in in February, March, April, May.

These industry leaders are asking for a little guidance. All they know is the law, as we have it now, kicks in January 2, says that there will be no thought, no planning, just we take out the budget and cut every line item by a margin, 8, 12, 20 percent, whatever it is, realizing we're already a quarter of the way into the year.

One of the leaders gave us this quote in this conference. This is Sean O'Keefe, president and CEO of EADS North America and chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association. And I quote:

Most immediately, the administration must communicate today its sequestration implementation to the public, our Armed Forces, and to industry.

The current uncertainty has effectively put sequestration and its consequences in motion. In the absence of any guidance, industry is already holding back investments, questioning the fairness of ongoing competitions, doubting the viability of existing contracts, and starting to trim capacity.

In the absence of definitive guidance from the DOD, the OMB, and the Defense Contract Management Agency, we feel compelled to act in the spirit of this law and, in all likelihood, will issue WARN notices to those employees engaged in ongoing Federal contract activities.

We are going to put thousands of people in jeopardy of their jobs between
now and when sequestration should kick in. This is already in motion.

Madam Speaker, I ask that we come together on this issue, that we solve this issue. I ask the President to put forth some leadership. As Commander in Chief, he has the obligation to help us solve this problem. I ask our colleagues to please support this legislation and to bring transparency.

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