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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 273, Elimination of 2013 Pay Adjustment, and for Other Purposes

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. SLAUGHTER. I thank my colleague from the Rules Committee.

Mr. Speaker and everyone who is listening, you know by now and what you've heard by now is they want sequestration. The local papers and the ones that we've printed on Capitol Hill today all say they want sequestration. The excuse they're giving is they're going to wait and see what the Senate will do, that we're not going to take any action here, that we're just going to be bystanders until we find out they want sequestration.

Over 700,000 workers are going to lose their jobs. A lot of economists tell us that this could be worse than the Great Depression, but they're willing to do it. They're willing to do it because they want to fight this President. I think that means a whole lot more to them than doing their job here as elected Members of Congress. As we've heard before, we only have 6 legislative days left. When we come back from a week's vacation, we will have these cuts that will have this devastating impact on our economy and on the well-being of every American citizen.

I urge the CEOs of America who are very worried, and they've said so for months and months, that they're concerned desperately about the prospect of sequestration, to talk to their Members here and get them to change their mind, if they can.

This is really dire. We're not kidding around here. This is serious business. We are literally facing a fiscal cliff. But the solution we've made to this, as you all know, a manmade crisis here, they take a swing at their favorite punching bag and hold hostage again the people who make their living serving all of us.

Last night was the first time I really heard that what we're doing, we're not going to save anything. Now, bear in mind that the Federal employees have already given in salary give-backs over $100 billion over the next 10 years. That should be enough sacrifice from them, but no, we're going to go for more. But we're not going to use it to reduce the deficit, it is going to be made available to agencies.

Well, there's a lot of ``Alice in Wonderland'' sort of sense in Congress these days. Alice, one of the things that I liked about her the most, and she's a very strange little girl, but she said that she practiced as hard as she could to try to believe six impossible things before breakfast. And I'm trying to put this in that same category, and it simply is impossible for me to believe that we gain anything in the world by taking away the salary and income of hardworking government employees to put back in Federal agencies. Frankly, if any of you can really understand that, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know.

We had a chance--in the last 2 weeks, we've had two chances--to do away with the sequester in a commonsense way and also to cut the deficit with a sensible solution. Mr. Van Hollen, who is the ranking member of the Budget Committee and deserves our respect, was not allowed to do anything.

As you pointed out, and I also heard Mr. McGovern say so, the Rules Committee now runs the House. There's no committee action on any of these bills. No chance for Republicans and Democrats in the committee setup, which the Founding Fathers did, and which we followed for generations and hundreds of years here, no possibility for them to discuss it. It simply is brought to Rules.

Now, Mr. Van Hollen, his sensible solution here, which really does make sense, was simply not allowed to be put on the floor so that we could discuss it and give people a vote. A bipartisan group of the Members of the House don't want this bill passed. I'm going to put a letter in from one of the most thoughtful Members and a friend, Representative Wolf from Virginia, about what he thinks this is about. He calls this a cheap political trick, and I think that pretty well sums it up.

Now, already cuts totaling $1.5 trillion have been made to discretionary spending. And as a result, because of the layoff of employees, our economy experienced an unexpected economic contraction in the final quarter of 2012, which we should pay heed to.

Sequestration would compound our economic troubles even further. George Mason University says sequestration would cause 2.14 million American employees to lose their jobs. Meanwhile, important Federal programs would be crippled because of irresponsible cuts. I need to mention a few of them again.

FAA, which makes flying safer, they would experience a great cutback. The people who guard the border, who do drug interdiction, who keep our border safe and strong, they would have a severe cutback. Sequestration would mean that vital research would be slowed. And as a scientist, let me assure you that research cannot be turned off and on like a faucet. It is necessary for us to maintain that research with dollars because, as it's been pointed out before, we want to keep our population healthy.

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Ms. SLAUGHTER. How important that is for us, not only for our economic well-being, but for the well-being of our citizens.

This is a foolish thing that we're doing here today, and I can't imagine anybody in the Senate would even contemplate bringing it up. So all of this is simply a waste of time, as we do here so many times.

I urge my colleagues on both sides, vote ``no'' and please give us a chance to let Mr. Van Hollen bring his bill to the floor--or some bill from the Republican side. I don't care where it comes from. We have to stop sequestration.

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