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Providing for Consideration of HR 933, Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. VAN HOLLEN. I thank my colleague, Mr. McGovern, and thank my colleague, Mr. Cole, for his efforts, but this bill falls short in a number of areas. But most of all, it falls short because it does nothing to prevent the loss of 750,000 American jobs that will result because of the sequester.

``Sequester'' is just a fancy Washington name for hundreds of thousands of American jobs lost. That's going to squeeze middle class families; it's going to squeeze small businesses.

And that 750,000 jobs lost number, that's not the President's number, Mr. Speaker. That's not my number. That's the number from the nonpartisan, independent Congressional Budget Office, who have told us that if the sequester stays in place till the end of this calendar year, you'll have 750,000 less Americans working at a time when we have a very fragile recovery going on.

Just last week, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve said that it would reduce economic growth this year by one-third. Why would we want to do that when we have an alternative?

And, as Mr. McGovern said, we have now tried four times to have an up-or-down vote on the floor of this House on a plan that would replace the sequester in a balanced way. So it would achieve the same amount of deficit reduction as the across-the-board sequester, but without the massive job loss that comes with the sequester because we do it in a targeted way over a period of time.

We reduce overpayments and subsidies to the agriculture area, which there's consensus on, but we also close some big tax loopholes. We say big oil companies no longer need big taxpayer subsidies, something that President Bush proposed. And yet our colleagues are so insistent on protecting those special interest tax breaks and not allowing those funds to be used to reduce the deficit, that they haven't even allowed a vote up or down here on the floor of the House.

As my colleague, Mr. McGovern said, we have now tried four times. How many times have our Republican colleagues put forward a solution to replace the sequester this year? Zero. Zero when it counts.

So this is a very simple question. As part of this bill, we should have an up-or-down vote in the people's House on a choice. We're not asking our colleagues to vote for it, but I think if you look at surveys from the American people, the overwhelming majority of the American people support this replacement approach, this balanced approach to avoiding the sequester, than the huge job losses that result as a result of the sequester.

And people should not be misled when they look at the numbers in different funding categories in this bill, because it's not what it seems. They will be cut dramatically. That will mean fewer researchers looking for cures and treatments to diseases, fewer nurses taking care of veterans at our hospitals.

So, Mr. Speaker, we just ask, in the interest of openness and transparency, give us a vote. Give the American people a vote on an alternative to the sequester so we don't lose hundreds of thousands of jobs.

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