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CBC Hour: The Impact of Sequestration

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my good friends and colleagues--Congressman Horsford from Nevada and Congressman Jeffries from New York, across the water from me--for once again anchoring this Special Order for the CBC on the impact of sequestration.

I came to Washington to work--to serve the hardworking families and individuals in my district who have been disproportionately impacted by this economy. I came to Washington to spur growth and development for the sake of this country's economic future. Unfortunately, my colleagues on the other side oppose any effort that would support this mission. Sadly, the only growth and development that the Republican leadership has spurred has been the development of lies and the growth of fear among the American people.

We now face the drastic cuts of sequestration because the Republican leadership in Congress refuses to adopt a balanced approach to our Nation's deficit and debt. Instead, they push drastic measures that would only further depress this economy. The fact is that it is impossible to reduce Federal debts without a healthy economy, and a healthy economy will not develop as a result of sporadic cuts but, rather, as a result of increased revenue, in part by an increased volume of working people who earn income and pay taxes. This is common sense; yet the sequester and everything the Republican leadership has proposed undermines the current and future workforce, and it disproportionately harms low-income families and individuals.

At a time of great need for a skilled workforce, the sequester would cut workforce development programs and assistance for college students. As it was stated, YouthBuild and Job Corps are key workforce development programs that provide pathways to employment for low-income youth. These programs already experienced a 37 percent cut in fiscal year 2011, but they will face additional cuts under sequestration. TRIO programs are key Federal supports for first-generation college students to prepare them to attend and complete college. These programs serve nearly 800,000 students, and they will face cuts of almost $43 million under sequestration.

In New Jersey, my home State, around 1,480 fewer low-income students will receive financial aid for college, and nearly 650 fewer students will receive work-study jobs. Approximately 15,000 students will be impacted by the cuts in education, and around 1,300 children will be removed from Head Start. Nationally, approximately 9 million students will be impacted due to cuts in education, and nearly 70,000 children will be removed from the Head Start program.

Further, under sequestration, the security of children and their families will also be impacted. Research shows that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children--WIC--improves birth outcomes, reduces child anemia and improves the participants' nutrition and health. It is widely regarded as one of the most effective social programs; yet under sequestration this program will be forced to cut an estimated 600,000 to 775,000 women and children. This is devastating.

These cuts are unnecessary and counterproductive. Democrats have offered commonsense solutions time and time again to our deficit issue, including the latest alternative to sequestration--H.R. 699. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership prefers manufacturing problems and not offering real solutions. The Republican leadership claims that their actions are in the name of our Nation's future and austerity for our children; but our Nation's deficit peaked at $1.4 trillion in 2009, which was prior to their efforts to cut, and it has been falling ever since.

Our economy, though sluggish, is experiencing record growth. Now is not the time for arbitrary cuts. Now is the time to end the shameful attack on the middle class and the hardworking Americans. Pass a balanced approach. We are waiting for leadership in this area.

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