House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement at today's hearing on Sequestration Implementation Options and the Effects on National Defense: Industry Perspectives:
"I wish to thank our witnesses for appearing today. The threat of sequestration continues to cast a shadow of uncertainty over the federal budget, and this committee is right to assess the harms that this uncertainty may have on: our national security, the defense industrial base, American job security, and the country's overall economic vitality. The insight offered by private industry is helpful to our understanding of the potential impact of sequestration.
"For nearly a year, Members of Congress have raised the alarm about the impact that automatic cuts would have on the Department of Defense and its supporting industrial base. They are justified in their concern. If implemented, sequestration could jeopardize our ability to meet national security needs. Large, indiscriminate cuts could seriously challenge our ability to operate militarily and threaten to disrupt the industrial base that supports our service men and women in their brave efforts to deter or defeat current and future threats. Congress must act soon to prevent sequestration from occurring. Until it does, our national security will remain at risk.
"We should also be mindful of the reality that the Department of Defense and the defense industrial base would not be the only targets of sequestration. Other essential federal programs vital to our economic wellbeing and our security are also at risk. National security involves much more than defense; it includes prudent and meaningful investments in the country's workforce, infrastructure, education, health care, innovation, business development, public safety and law enforcement means, energy resources and many other facets of enduring national strength. We need a comprehensive solution to this pervasive threat to our future.
"I voted against the Budget Control Act, which put us on the excruciating path to sequestration. We need a long-term plan for curbing our debt and for getting our deficits under control, but I disagreed with the BCA's approach. Deficit-reduction goals cannot be achieved through spending cuts alone, especially if those cuts are exclusive to non-defense programs. Everything needs to be carefully considered in devising a balanced approach. Revenues need to be increased, mandatory programs need to be brought in line with what we can afford over the long term, and domestic spending should be carefully examined to find real and substantial savings over time. Unfortunately, instead of working seriously to find such a balanced solution, the majority in Congress has refused to consider revenue increases and focused instead on measures to kick the threat of sequester slightly down the road. That is just not good enough.
"With national security, the economy, and our future at stake, it is my hope that reason will prevail. The solution to this problem is simple. Let's put realistic revenue options on the table and find the $1.2 trillion in savings mandated by the Budget Control Act. I stand ready to work with each of my colleagues in reaching a timely and sensible compromise.
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing, and I give thanks, again, to our witnesses for being here today. I look forward to their testimony."