Mr. WILLIAMS. Madam Speaker, President Obama's sequester is bad for America. There's no getting around it. Good programs are going to be cut, good people are going to be furloughed; and bad leadership from President Obama is to blame. In the last four years, almost every important budget deadline has been met with impasse and little has been done to enact a responsible budget.
Systematic failure to perform the basic responsibilities of governing has led us to the catastrophic sequestration we see today.
President Obama came up with this idea for the sequester as a temporary solution for another fiscal crisis in 2011. As we've been saying for months, House Republicans are the only ones who have taken action to balance the budget. Last Congress, the House passed two bills, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act and the Spending Reduction Act. However, in recent remarks at the White House, President Obama attempted to blame House Republicans--who control only one-half of one-third of the government--for the looming cuts.
If there's going to be a solution, President Obama is going to have to work with his own political party in the Senate and negotiate with the House. Yet all the President has done so far is call for higher taxes again. He got his higher taxes--$600 billion from higher earners, with no corresponding spending cuts--at the end of 2012. It seems he will not stop until every single American has to hand over more of their hard-earned money to the Federal Government--which, I might add, has a bad track record of spending it.
There is no denying that the government spends too much, but these blind cuts are irresponsible and will have a disastrous effect on our military. Yesterday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified at a hearing that our national security will be put at risk if they are forced to make deep reductions in spending for manpower, training, and equipment modernization programs.
This is no longer a debate between Congress and the White House to gain the upper hand. This is real, this is serious, and this is the time to take action. In fact, I sent a letter to the President this week urging him to act now to prevent the harmful fallout that the sequester will cause. I pray that he reads it.
While Friday does mark the sequester deadline, we have until March 27 to do the right thing on behalf of our men and women in uniform, as well as the hundreds of thousands of employees expected to be drastically impacted by the sequester.
If the President continues his unwillingness to stop campaigning and start helping the American people who elected him to lead, then at the very least we need to allow the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to operate under a budget rather than a continuing resolution. This would give them greater flexibility and put them in the best possible position to absorb these across-the-board cuts. By letting the DOD and VA operate under a budget, these agencies can prevent permanent damage from the arbitrary sequester cuts.
Madam Speaker, I represent Texas' 25th Congressional District, which includes a large portion of Fort Hood--one of the largest military installations in the world. The United States Army estimates $291 million in cuts for Fort Hood, including nearly 600 civilian jobs and nearly 30,000 jobs statewide.
This is preventable. And quite frankly, it's totally unacceptable. We shouldn't have to move a third bill in the House before the Senate finally acts. It's time for President Obama to drop the politics and campaign speeches and do something. Putting our public safety, national security and economy at risk by letting the sequester pass without preventative action is reckless and destructive. Our troops, our businesses, and our families deserve better. Americans expect our President to lead.
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC, February 25, 2013.
Hon. BARACK H. OBAMA,
The White House,
DEAR PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am writing to express my outrage over the proposed cuts to the Department of Defense as part of the sequestration phase of the Budget Control Act of 2011. As commander-in-chief of the U.S. military, your inaction to prevent these cuts from happening to our military and their families is unconscionable.
In the 112th Congress, the House of Representatives passed two bills, H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012 and H.R. 6684, the Spending Reduction Act of 2012 which would have canceled the sequester of approximately $98 billion in discretionary defense, discretionary non-defense, and mandatory defense FY2013 spending. Neither bill was even considered by the U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives shouldn't have to move a third bill before you or the Senate finally acts.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently stated, ``If sequester happens, it is going to badly damage the readiness of the United States of America. We have the most powerful military force on the face of the earth right now. It is important in terms of providing stability and peace in the world. If sequester goes into effect, and we have to do the kind of cuts that will go right at readiness, right at maintenance, right at training, we are going to weaken the United States. And make it much more difficult for us to respond to the crises in the world.''
Gen. Martin Dempsey went further in recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and stated that sequestration would put our military on a path where the ``force is so degraded and so unready'' that it would be ``immoral to use the force.''
Mr. President, I represent the 25th Congressional District of Texas which includes a large portion of Fort Hood--one of the largest military installations in the world. The United States Army estimates $291 million in cuts for Fort Hood including nearly 600 civilian jobs, and nearly 30 thousand jobs statewide. This is preventable! Let's cut the nonsense--drop the politics, drop the campaign speeches, and do something.
We shouldn't put our national security, public safety, and the economy at risk by letting the sequester pass without preventative action. Our troops, our businesses, and our families deserve better. Mr. President, Americans expect you to lead.
Member of Congress.