By James R Hood
Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) took to the House floor to ask the House Republican leadership to bring Congress back into Washington now to deal with the threats posed to national security and the social safety net by sequestration. But Connolly, joined by Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO) was gaveled down by the Acting Speaker immediately after he delivered the Pledge of Allegiance, and as he posed a parliamentary inquiry asking whether the Speaker of the House has the authority to recall the House during the current recess to address sequestration.
Connolly's plea fell on deaf ears as the House Republicans shut off the sound and cameras so that voters could not hear or see Connolly and Carnahan urge the leadership to return to Washington to resolve an issue that could kill more than 2 million jobs.
During the August recess and the current seven-week recess, Connolly has publicly and repeatedly called on the House Republican leadership to cancel the recess and return to Washington to address the serious fiscal issues facing Congress.
"We were out for five weeks in August and now we are out for another seven weeks," Connolly said. "We were only in session for a week-and-a-half in between. You would think the House Leadership would want to bring us back to put our fiscal house in order and avoid the consequences of sequestration."
Connolly said a recent George Mason University analysis shows that sequestration would result in the loss of more than 2 million jobs nationally. "This would halt our momentum on putting people back to work and lowering unemployment," he said. "It would also create a $215 billion drag on our Gross Domestic Product."
Connolly warned that more than a quarter-million federal employees and a half-million federal contract employees could face layoffs, and his own state of Virginia stands to be one of the hardest hit.
"You would think that the House Republican leadership would understand that it is time to put politics aside and do what's best for our country and our citizens right now," Connolly said. "So far, House Republicans have shown no willingness to compromise or bring the House back to address this looming crisis."
Connolly said there is a balanced path to resolving sequestration before it is triggered at the end of the year. "These challenges are not insurmountable. I and my colleagues stand ready to work with House Republicans to achieve a balanced solution to reduce our deficit, invest in jobs and our economy, and restore confidence in our ability to govern responsibly."