Mr. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY of New York. Madam Speaker, earlier this week, I was home in the Hudson Valley at the United States Military Academy at West Point talking to the cadets there to better understand these arbitrary cuts to that legendary American institution that will happen if we fail to act.
West Point has been educating and training our Nation's next generation of military leaders since 1802. It is as old as the Nation itself. Each year, over 1,000 young men and women from all across our country step into the long gray line where two American Presidents, 18 astronauts, 74 Medal of Honor recipients, 70 Rhodes Scholars, and three Heisman Trophy winners have stood before them.
These kids take the hard road. They give up the easy life to serve us and our country. For many of them, their time at the Point is just the beginning of a lifetime of selfless service. Indeed, scores of West Point graduates--recent West Point graduates--have made the ultimate sacrifice serving us in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While I was there, I had the opportunity, in fact, to walk among the graves of the heroes buried there on that beautiful plain high above the Hudson River. Many are buried by year with the classmates with whom they went to school.
Tomorrow, General Norman Schwarzkopf will be laid to rest in this cemetery; and in that very hour, we will be here facing a choice of whether we will ask more of those who love and serve West Point or whether we will look elsewhere.
If we do nothing, sequestration will clobber West Point with $92 million in arbitrary cuts. In fact, West Point is taking the biggest cut of any Army institution in New York. Sequestration means that our cadets will continue to live and train in outdated facilities that are over 40 years old. It means that furloughs will happen for 1,300 employees working there.
The men and women who feed, instruct, and protect our Nation's next generation of military leaders shouldn't lose their jobs because this Congress can't do ours. Sequestration is a terrible idea. It is the dead hand of the last Congress reaching out to strangle economic activity. We are 2 days away from the deadline, and there are people here who actually think it's a good idea to let it happen.
I believe we need to cut spending. I believe we need to bring down our debt and start balancing our deficit. But we have choices: we can end lavish tax breaks to private jet owners before we ask the kids at West Point to do with less; we can stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas before we weaken the Long Grey Line; and we can end massive tax cuts for oil companies before we weaken a great American institution like West Point.
This Congress has a clear choice. And for those colleagues who choose to do nothing, I ask you to head home to your district and explain to the kids whom you nominated to West Point that these are good ideas and necessary sacrifices, that it's better for them to sacrifice than for private jet owners, for big oil companies, or for companies that ship our jobs overseas.
The Army's motto is ``This we'll defend.'' West Point is something that we should defend because the cadets there will continue to honorably serve all of us and our country.
Congress doing nothing is not a choice. It's not good for our cadets, and it's not good for our country. Let's stop this series of self-inflicted crises and work together to reach a balanced compromise to replace these across-the-board cuts with a smart, balanced approach that will address our fiscal challenges.