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Public Statements

Sequestration

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BUTTERFIELD. The gentleman from Tennessee who just spoke said that sequestration is a game of scare tactics. Apparently, he hasn't looked at the statistics from his district in Tennessee. Let me tell you, sequestration is not only going to affect the people of my district, but it's going to affect the people of his district and his State as well.

Sequestration is very troubling, Mr. Speaker. Sensible people all across America are beginning to see the impact that sequestration will have on their families. We are hearing from Governors every day, both Democrat and Republican. We cannot wait any longer. We have delayed this for far too long. The consequences of an unbalanced budget are very, very clear.

My home State of North Carolina already has one of the highest rates of unemployment at 9 percent; and these cuts, Mr. Speaker, to education, health care, low-income families, and military readiness around my State and country will be disastrous to so many.

Our children are our most valuable asset, and ensuring they earn a quality education is the best investment we can make in our future. Unfortunately, the sequester threatens many children's chances at obtaining a quality education.

The impacts of sequester in my State of North Carolina are huge. Teachers and schools in North Carolina will lose more than $25 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting 350 teachers and teacher aide jobs at risk, resulting in 40,000 fewer students receiving services they need to help them do well in school. Programs like Head Start and Early Head Start--services that residents in my district so desperately need--will be eliminated for 1,500 children, reducing access to critical early education programs that teach the skills necessary to enter kindergarten on an equal footing.

If America, Mr. Speaker, is to continue to be a global leader, we must out-compete other nations in the classroom by improving the caliber of teachers, promoting school grants, increasing education standards, and utilizing up-to-date technology to prepare students for the higher education and jobs of the future. However, educational advances will only result if our schools are properly funded. Don't cut education.

The American people must know that the sequester's reach stretches to health care research and innovation. Hospitals around the country and those in my district, like Duke University Medical Center, serve an invaluable role in the community to not only care for those who are sick, but to research and find cures for critical diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease--curable diseases that kill people every day. Don't let this happen.

The across-the-board cuts would sever funding for research from organizations like the National Institutes of Health. Scientists at universities across my district, like at Duke University and East Carolina University, would not have the chance to discover groundbreaking medical advancements such as the one that earned Duke University's Dr. Robert Leftkowitz the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Many citizens in my district are low-income families who are currently surviving with assistance from critical antipoverty programs like unemployment benefits, SNAP, and WIC. Low- and middle-income families will bear the brunt of the pain from this sequester. These people deserve programs that provide relief from financial hardships. However, if Congress does not work together to prevent sequestration this week, these programs will lose very significant portions of their budgets.

North Carolina has an enormous military presence; the sequester will be felt especially hard by our men and women in uniform and the civilians that support military operations. Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, and U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, among others, will not be ready to defend and serve our country at a moment's notice if we allow this to happen.

In my State alone, cuts to the Department of Defense budget will result in 22,000 civilian DOD staff being furloughed, reducing the gross pay by $117 million. Base operation funding would be cut by $136 million, severely reducing military readiness, putting our country at peril.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I implore my colleagues to work together to prevent the impending sequestration so that we may prevent devastating cuts to our vital infrastructure. We are slowly but surely building on economic recovery, and our Nation can literally not afford to be knocked down again by an inability to compromise. Please, let's get it done.


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