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Public Statements

Opposition to Sequestration

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. VARGAS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to sequestration. I am appalled by the complete and utter abdication of leadership and responsibility by Speaker BOEHNER and House Republicans to bring a bill to the House Floor that would replace the catastrophic and needless sequester.

Early this week, President Obama reminded us of the untold damage that the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts would inflict on our fragile economy, on the lives of working families, children, students, and on our military. I am outraged that House Republicans would stand idly by and allow these disastrous, self-inflicted cuts to go into effect causing between one and two million people to lose their jobs. We should be adopting policies that create jobs, instead of succumbing to policies that eliminate jobs.

California residents cannot afford another GOP-manufactured crisis. That is why, on behalf of all the residents of California, and especially the residents of the 51st Congressional District, I have joined with my colleagues to call on the House Republican leadership to do what is right for our Nation's economy, security and families and take action this week on a balanced plan to avert these damaging and mindless spending cuts.

The Office of Management and Budget released a report earlier this week that substantiates many of the devastating and widespread impacts that sequestration will have on local communities in California, several of which are included below:
Military Readiness and Jobs: In California, approximately 64,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $399.4 million in total. My district includes portions of San Diego, which has one of the largest military presences in the Nation and is the headquarters for the Navy Region Southwest. These cuts to defense spending will cause the maintenance and repair of ships and aircraft to be cancelled, putting at risk the safety and security of our men and women in uniform. As nearly 25% of the jobs in San Diego County are directly connected to the defense industry, these brutal cuts will cause extraordinary harm to the struggling economy and put thousands of jobs at risk.

Job Search Assistance: Around 130,000 fewer Californians will get the help and skills they need to find employment as California will lose about $3.3 million for job search assistance, referral, and placement. My district includes Imperial County which suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the Nation, nearly 30%. My constituents cannot afford to lose critical employment assistance.

Nutrition for Seniors: California would lose approximately $5.4 million to help provide meals for seniors. Many of our seniors live on limited fixed incomes and rely on these programs to help provide basic necessities. We cannot sit here on our hands and allow our seniors to go hungry.

Child Care: Up to 2,000 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.

Vaccines for Children: In California around 15,810 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations. It is callous and unacceptable to put the health and safety of our children at risk.

Public Health: California will lose approximately $2.6 million to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, California will lose about $12.4 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 9,400 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the California State Department of Public Health will lose about $2 million resulting in around 49,300 fewer HIV tests.

Teachers and Schools: California will lose approximately $87.6 million for primary and secondary education, putting around 1,210 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 187,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 320 fewer schools would receive funding.

Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 8,200 children in California, reducing access to critical early education. Many of my constituents rely on this crucial service to help bridge the education gap.

Education for Children with Disabilities: California will lose approximately $62.9 million for about 760 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

College Aid and Work-Study Jobs: Around 9,600 fewer low income students in California, many from my district, would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 3,690 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds: California will lose about $1.6 million in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

Violence Against Women Grants: California could lose up to $795,000 to provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 3,000 fewer victims being served.

Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: California would lose about $12.4 million to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. My district relies on this essential funding to help mitigate the pollution that drifts across the United States-Mexico border.

The most egregious part of the House Republicans' dereliction of legislative duty, is that over the last several months, both Senate and House Democrats have offered fair, balanced plans to avert these damaging cuts. These proposals are built on responsible spending cuts, increased revenues, and job growth.

Yesterday, Representative CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, fought valiantly to bring a fair and balanced plan to replace the sequester to the floor. His reasonable and responsible plan would have eliminated tax loopholes and adopted the ``Buffet Rule'' to make sure that wealthy Americans pay their fair share.

Yet House Republicans have adamantly refused to work toward a compromise to reduce the deficit because they refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes that benefit the privileged few. Republicans are blissfully content to continue to place millions of jobs at risk, threaten the health and security of middle class families, and put the safety of neighborhoods across the Nation in jeopardy.

I call on my colleagues, the House Republicans, to immediately bring legislation to the floor that would replace the sequester with a balanced plan and protect our Nation's military, working families, seniors, and children from these devastating and unwarranted cuts.


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