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Public Statements

CBC Hour: The Impact of Sequestration

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. HORSFORD. Thank you, Madam Speaker. To my good friend and colleague, Representative Jeffries, thank you for co-anchoring this special hour, and to all of my colleagues who joined us tonight to discuss the impact of the sequester.

You know, far too often, talk of the so-called sequester ignores the very real people who feel the pain of unfair cuts. Our job, as Representatives, is to be the voice of our constituents. Well, tonight, I hope that we can have a frank discussion about what these cuts really mean to all of our communities.

My colleagues talked about the 750,000 to 1 million job losses that could result as a result of the sequester. Any day, Congress can pass a reasonable, balanced deficit reduction solution to avert these devastating, across-the-board cuts. That's what the American people are asking for, in fact.

According to a USA Today/Pew Research poll, three out of four Americans surveyed said that Congress should focus on a balanced approach to the deficit, with a combination of spending cuts, strategic spending cuts, and additional revenue.

Now, I know here in Washington, sometimes the focus is more on scoring political points, or seeing who can win the blame game. Well, Madam Speaker, the American people are watching, and they are fed up with the broken ways of Washington. They came out and they voted in November, and they sent a very clear message to all of us here in Congress that it is time for us to work together to put partisanship aside and to put our Nation first.

So, if all parties would come to the table, like we are supposed to, we can minimize the impact of the sequester on working families like mine in Congressional District Four. If we do our jobs, like the American people are rightfully demanding, we can reduce our debt in a responsible way and get our economy moving again.

So I call on my colleagues on the other side of the aisle: Come to the table, help find a solution, and let's fix some of these deep cuts that were never supposed to happen. I wasn't part of the Congress that enacted the sequester. I know my colleague, Mr. Jeffries, was not either, but we are here now, and we want to do our jobs on behalf of the constituents who sent us here.

This is victory for no one and a horrible loss for the American people. Now, if we let the sequester continue, our economic recovery will be thrown in reverse.

A study by George Mason University projects a loss of 2.14 million American jobs if we fail to act. Half of those jobs will come from small businesses, businesses that are the engines of our economy. Perhaps most unfair, as part of the sequester, our schools and our students will be hurt.

Now, a couple of weeks ago, I voted, along with many of my colleagues, to not adjourn this body, to stay here throughout the so-called District Work Week to work with my colleagues across the aisle to try to come up with a balanced solution to avoid these devastating cuts. But the leadership, the Republican leadership, decided to adjourn.

And so, instead of spending time with our families, we went out and met with our constituents to listen to them about what these cuts mean in their everyday lives.

So let me talk to you about what this means in my home State of Nevada.

Nearly 300 Nevada children will lose Head Start and early Head Start services. These are programs that provide critical early education programs. At a time when we talk about wanting to close the academic achievement gap and allowing every child to start school ready to learn on day one, these impacts would deny services to 300 Nevada children. In fact, I already have 400 children who are on the waiting list for one of my Head Start providers, and families can't even get in to be served.

Primary and secondary education in Nevada would be cut by $9 million, putting around 120 teacher and teacher aide jobs at risk. Funding for title I schools would be slashed.

One particular elementary school that I visited, Matt Kelly Elementary School, over 50 percent of their allocation from the school district is title I funding. How is that school supposed to maintain the services that they're providing to these young and deserving children?

Services like nutrition programs, full-day kindergarten, a parent center so that we can actually have parental involvement in our schools, that is what is under attack with these mindless, across-the-board cuts.

About 14,000 fewer students would be served, and approximately 10 fewer schools in my district would even receive funding under title I.

Disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents. When we talk about helping people get back to work, one of the biggest impediments for many families is having access to child care.

Schools and families in my district need these programs to provide hungry students the meals that they need to focus in class, to fund math and reading intervention programs, and to keep their teachers employed.

We can reduce unnecessary spending, Madam Speaker, but these are the wrong places to cut, and everyone knows it on both sides of the aisle, in both Chambers of this Congress.

Now, some of these cuts won't heal. And as Mrs. Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund has aptly noted, we better be careful what we cut because some cuts don't heal. We don't get a second chance at Head Start. We don't get a second chance once our kids have moved on to the next grade, with or without the schools that they need. We don't get a second chance at the whole formative experience of education that so heavily influences the paths of our lives.

Opportunities are just that. They're there for a moment, and they disappear if you don't act. There is no reset button for your education. Once our children are in those classrooms, we set them on a track for success or failure. We tip the scales for or against them in the moment that they walk through the front doors of the schoolhouse.

We ask our students to study hard, meet deadlines and do their homework. That's their end of the bargain. We, as parents, are asked to be involved, to foster our children's growth and to pay attention to their needs. As Members of Congress, our end of the bargain is to make sure that our children's schools are well-funded institutions of learning.

Well, if anyone is grading Congress right now, we're not doing our job, Madam Speaker. We even gave ourselves a 2-month extension, but we missed our deadline and let cuts go into effect that Members from both parties have described as dumb, avoidable, and painful. Congress didn't make the grade.

When it comes to fixing the deficit, you have to be careful what you cut. As I said, according to the Children's Defense Fund, eliminating early education investments now would increase a child's chances of going to prison later by up to 39 percent. Paying for that prison will cost nearly three times more a year than it would have cost to provide them with a quality early learning experience.

Simply put, our kids are being shortchanged by adults here in Washington. This is an adult problem, and it's time for adults to be adults and to come into this body and work together and solve this for our children and their future.

Let's make the right choice--adequately fund our schools and look out for our children.

I thank my colleague for yielding.

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Mr. HORSFORD. Thank you to my friend and my colleague from New York. And as you aptly noted, the history of how we got to this point needs to not be lost in this debate. And I know there are some who also want to now talk about the cuts that were made in agreement with the administration last year, along with those additional revenues which were approved in January, as somehow the answer for why there needs to be no additional revenue.

That doesn't take into account the $85 billion of cuts that are now upon us under this sequester.

I'd like to just hit on three additional points, if I could. One is the unemployment impact.

We're focused on growing the economy, putting people back to work. In my home State of Nevada, we still have an unemployment rate above the national average. While our numbers are coming down, we don't need to add anyone to the unemployment lines. Under the sequester, some 750,000 to 1 million Americans will end up losing their jobs unless this Congress comes together and finds a solution--a balanced approach, as you indicate.

In Nevada, that's 10,000 lost jobs. And of those jobs, the main areas that will be affected are the civilian positions at our Air Force bases--Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base, and the Hawthorn Army Depot. It's estimated that some 1,400 furloughs will occur to civilian jobs, amounting to $11 million in lost wages. These aren't just lost wages to these individuals and their families; it's $11 million less of economic recovery that we so desperately need.

Then when you talk about our tourism and the impact to travel, the FAA will be required to cut its operational activities by nearly $483 million. As a consequence, all FAA employees could be furloughed for 11 days, meaning as much as 10 percent of the FAA's workforce of 40,000 would be on furlough on any given day. So for those of us who travel, States like ours, yours in New York that rely on tourism to fuel our economies, that is going to affect our ability to recover.

On top of that, Nevada will lose funds for job search assistance to help those who are currently looking for work. Nevada could lose upwards of $300,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral and placement, meaning that 10,000 fewer people will get the help that they need for the skills to help them find another job.

So these are the dire impacts that we see, talking to our constituents. These are the real impacts that we believe need to be addressed by this Congress in a balanced approach.

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Mr. HORSFORD. I just want to add that this debate begins and ends with the American people. We want to hear and listen to their views. We want you to know that you can go to # Be Careful What You Cut and tell us the impacts that you are seeing with this sequester and how it is affecting you. That way we can share those opinions and views with our colleagues to hopefully convince them that a balanced approach, working across party lines, both Chambers, the Senate and the House, coming together for the good of the American people is what we desperately need at this time.

Madam Speaker, thank you for allowing us to speak this evening and for the American people allowing us to be their voice in this representative government.

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