Congressman Connolly issued the following statement on his vote Wednesday against the Republican House Continuing Resolution:
"Today House Republicans failed to seize a perfect opportunity to avert the harmful cuts of sequestration, which will become a self-inflicted wound on our economy, our military, and our families.
"House Republicans pushed through a Continuing Resolution that will use a meat-axe to cut federal spending by more than $59 billion below previously-agreed upon levels. Democrats even offered an amendment to stop sequestration, but Republicans refused to accept it.
"Though I am normally reluctant to vote against funding basic government operations, I opposed this partisan bill because the ramifications for residents in Northern Virginia who either work for or partner with the federal government will be devastating.
"Further, this bill extends the pay freeze on federal employees for a third consecutive year. Our highly-skilled and dedicated public workforce is on the frontlines securing our borders, conducting innovative research, protecting our food supply and so many other jobs vital to our safety and our economy. They already have made sacrifices in pay and benefits totaling more than $100 billion to help reduce our nation's debt.
"If anyone's salaries should be frozen as a result of our financial crisis, it is Members of Congress. That is why I have introduced a bill to do just that. It is my hope that the Senate will send back a more reasonable proposal for funding the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year."
In a related matter, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) took to the House floor Wednesday morning to argue against the Rule for the Continuing Resolution to be considered later today. He cited his concerns that once again, federal employees were being treated like a punching bag and highlighted his bill to freeze pay for Members of Congress. Audio/Video link and a transcript are below.
Here is the text of Connolly's floor speech:
Rep. Gerry Connolly Floor Speech on Republican Continuing Resolution
March 6, 2013
It's really a shame we have come to this point where the dysfunction of this Congress is going to inflict harm on families, on the military, on communities throughout America. I have great respect for my friend from Oklahoma (Rep. Tom Cole, who was managing floor debate for the Republicans). He has reached across the aisle; he has tried to work with us to find common solutions.
But he knows the truth. The truth is that discretionary domestic spending as a percentage of our GDP is at the lowest it has been since the Eisenhower Administration. He knows the tax burden; the revenue side of the ledger is the lowest since Harry Truman was in the White House. He knows that the gap between spending and revenue has grown since the last time we balanced the budget under Bill Clinton when it was much closer.
We have to get our arms around spending but not in a mindless meat-axe way. It is going to hurt America, and to bake it into this continuing resolution, in my view, is a terrible mistake. If the Republican side of the aisle wants to embrace sequestration as its own with this fairy tale that it's just a haircut, it's not much, especially when you look at the overall size of federal spending, that will come as news to communities, to travelers, to consumers, to the American public who in fact will feel the brunt of sequestration in this continuing resolution.
The other aspect of this continuing resolution and why I oppose this rule, Mr. Speaker, is that once again we treat the federal employee like a punching bag. For the third year in a row we freeze their salary. They've already contributed, and they were the only group singled out to contribute to the federal debt reduction, to the tune of $100 billion in lost wages and benefit cutbacks. We use the freeze on Congress as a subterfuge to get at federal employees.
I urge my colleagues to vote against the rule and support my bill to freeze congressional salaries, HR 636, 73 co-sponsors have already decided to do so. I yield back.