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Public Statements

Sequestration

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. KIRKPATRICK. Madam Speaker, the voters sent us to Congress because they want solutions, but reckless, across-the-board cuts are not solutions. We are just 2 days away from the start of these cuts known as sequestration, 2 days away from hurting, rather than helping, the people who elected us.

Let me share with you some examples.

I represent Arizona's District One. This is a vast, beautiful, mostly rural district. It's larger than the State of Pennsylvania. My district includes one of the greatest natural resources of the world, the Grand Canyon, and many other national parks. The Grand Canyon is not only an environmental treasure; it is an economic driver. It brings $700 million to our economy and creates 12,000 jobs annually.

If our national parks are forced to cut operating hours, cut services or even close facilities, we will be hurting the economy, not helping it. Thousands of jobs and small businesses are connected to the national parks in my district and across our Nation. Hurting our national parks is not a solution.

I'm also concerned about how sequestration will hurt education. Thousands of low-income students in Arizona would no longer receive aid to help cover the cost of college. Work study jobs would be eliminated, and Arizona is the largest recipient of impact aid funding in the Nation. Impact aid compensates local school districts for revenue they lost due to the presence of federally owned and, therefore, tax-exempt property.

It compensates local school districts for costs incurred due to federally connected students.

What are federally connected students?

These are students who are Native American, who have a parent in the military, or who live on Federal property.

In my district in 2012, for example, the Chinle Unified School District received more than $22 million in impact aid. Sequestration cuts would deeply affect a district like Chinle's. It would hurt its capacity for everything from transportation to staffing and from construction to classroom size. Hurting our schools and our students is not a solution.

Madam Speaker, what about our tribal communities?

My district has 12 Native American tribes; 25 percent of my district is Native American. These are residents of some of our most remote and rural communities. The median household income is $7,000 a year. These folks often struggle with access to the most basic medical care and resources. If sequestration takes effect, their primary source of health care, the Indian Health Service, will take a major hit. Other Federal programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and veterans benefits, are exempt from sequestration cuts. The Indian Health Service is not exempt. IHS may be cut by over $200 million.

What does a cut like that mean to tribal communities in my district?

It would mean losing hundreds of jobs. It would mean cuts in primary health care. Nationwide, it's estimated that 3,000 fewer people would be admitted for inpatient care and that 800,000 fewer Native Americans would be able to receive outpatient visits.

Hurting our tribal communities is not a solution. The consequences of these cuts are not TV sound bites. They are real, and they hurt my district and our Nation. It will take both parties working together to find a responsible, thoughtful solution to our budget challenges. It will take both parties working together to put a stop to these reckless cuts of sequestration.

So let's work together, and let's show the American people that we are a Congress that can find solutions.


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