U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) met with small business and community leaders, teachers and students across New Hampshire today to renew her call for bipartisan, comprehensive action on the country's deficit and debt. Shaheen, who has repeatedly called for Congress to come together and develop a balanced and fair plan to reduce our debt and deficits, visited Manchester, Keene and Milford the day after Congress failed to reach a bipartisan agreement to avert automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts that are now set to begin as early as this afternoon.
"I'm extremely disappointed that Congress was unable to do its job and responsibly address our deficit and budget issues in a comprehensive and bipartisan way," Shaheen said. "The folks I met with today agree -- sweeping, indiscriminate cuts are not the right way to deal with our debt and deficit. We must do better."
Shaheen has repeatedly highlighted the potentially devastating impact of automatic cuts and has repeatedly called for bipartisan action to prevent the cuts from being implemented. She toured Southwestern Community Services in Keene --a private-public partnership that is one of six community action agencies in the Granite State which provides resources and programs to combat poverty. Later, Shaheen met with Citronics Corporation, a small business contract manufacturer in Milford.
"During the last few years we have had to make many cuts to comply with reductions in Federal & State Budgets. We have reduced the cost of operations across all programs. We have reduced our work force by almost 20% through layoffs. For the first time, with the budget cuts mandated by Sequestration, we have no choice but to make huge cuts in services to our consumers at a time when the need for these services is greater than ever," said William A. Marcello, Chief Executive Officer of Southwestern Community Services.
"The New Hampshire Congressional delegation needs to do all they can do to ensure that the looming spending cuts under sequestration are made with a bipartisan, thoughtful, targeted and common sense approach. We need to work towards comprehensive, long term solutions to the current debt crisis in order to achieve a sustainable and robust economic recovery," added Gerardine Ferlins, President and Owner of Cirtronics Corporation.
In recent days, Shaheen has stayed in contact with stakeholders throughout the Granite State -- business leaders, local government officials, and workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard -- to keep them updated on the latest developments, hear their feedback, and take into account their concerns in preparation of cuts.
"These sweeping automatic budget cuts can have real and extreme consequences for New Hampshire's economy," Shaheen added. "They were never designed to go into effect. Instead, they were designed to encourage Congress to set spending priorities and come up with a comprehensive plan to address our debt and deficits. Now we must live up to that responsibility and find a comprehensive and balanced plan to put us on a more sustainable fiscal path."
Shaheen also delivered remarks at the 11th Annual BAE Systems Granite State FIRST Robotics Competition in Manchester where high school students create and design robots for a competition. Shaheen has been a longtime supporter of the program and other STEM efforts since her days as Governor and plans to reintroduce legislation that would give high school students greater access to innovative education programs like FIRST in science and engineering. Additionally, Shaheen spoke on the importance of the housing market and small businesses to the New Hampshire and national economies at the opening ceremonies for the 46th Annual Home Show in Manchester, hosted by the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of New Hampshire.
Earlier this month, Shaheen visited Salem-based manufacturing firm Micro-Precision Technologies to discuss how automatic cuts would negatively impact New Hampshire businesses. She recently joined Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) in a joint letter pressing Senate Leadership to swiftly arrive at a bipartisan, balanced deficit reduction solution and also spoke on the Senate floor with Collins to further discuss the need for action.