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Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, today presents our last chance this month to deal with the harmful effects of sequestration, and yet the bill on the floor does nothing to address this critical issue. This week, for the fourth time, House Republicans blocked my amendment to replace sequestration, even as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warns that these arbitrary cuts will cost the economy 750,000 jobs and lower economic growth by nearly one-third. By failing to address sequestration, this bill underfunds education, scientific research, and consumer protections.
Moreover, while I appreciate that today's bill makes necessary adjustments to defense and veterans programs, I regret that it fails to make similar provisions for every other federal agency. By failing to adjust agency budgets outside of defense, this bill continues spending on old policies while failing to fund important priorities like implementation of the Affordable Care Act and enforcement of Dodd-Frank protections against abuse in the financial sector.
This bill also continues to unfairly penalize our federal workforce, extending their pay freeze through the end of the year. I support my colleague Gerry Connolly's bill to freeze Congressional pay, but our federal employees have already paid more than their fair share, sacrificing more than $100 billion in pay and benefits to reduce our Nation's deficit. Private-sector wages rose by an average of 1.4 percent in 2011 and 1.7 percent in 2012, but federal pay has been frozen since 2010. Denying a 0.5 percent cost-of-living increase for the federal workers who secure our airports, patrol our borders, conduct research in national labs, care for our veterans, and inspect our Nation's food supply will only jeopardize our ability to recruit and retain the best and the brightest.
We stand ready to work with our Republican colleagues to end sequestration and responsibly fund our national priorities. Instead, the Republican Leadership, driven by their most extreme members, continues to move from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis, ignoring our most pressing needs--jobs and the economy. We can and must do better for the American people. It is my hope that we can work with our colleagues in the Senate to craft balanced, responsible legislation that avoids a government shutdown, ends sequestration, and properly funds our Nation's priorities.
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