U.S. Representative K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) issued the following statement on today's sequester deadline:
"The House of Representatives, which comprises one-half of one-third of the branches of the federal government, has passed two bills to mitigate the effects of the sequester and make smart choices on where spending can be cut. We've waited on the president and the Democrat-controlled Senate to act, and their inaction is why the sequester is kicking in.
"While the ways the sequester cuts federal spending are in no way preferable or efficient, we cannot afford to do nothing. Spending must be reduced. Our growing deficit and debt cannot be ignored any longer. The only action less preferable than the implementation of these cuts would be to allow the status quo to continue in Washington.
"However, in the process of cutting spending, we cannot allow the administration to get away with presenting false choices to the American people. Saying no to the president's tax hikes does not have to result in drastic cuts to essential services, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's plan to furlough Food Safety and Inspection Service meat inspectors. Indiscriminately furloughing federal meat inspectors would severely damage the availability of American meat products and drive up prices.
"Essential services should not be threatened to make a political point, and I am extremely disappointed with the administration for perpetrating fear mongering. Sequestration is estimated to cut just more than 1 percent of fiscal year 2013's overall federal budget. I urge the administration and agency leaders to work with the House to identify wasteful spending and to create a more efficient and fiscally responsible federal government."
The two House-passed bills from the 112th Congress are:
H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, which would replace sequestration cuts to defense and discretionary spending with cuts to mandatory spending programs. Mandatory spending programs are the main driver of the deficit.
H.R. 6684, the Spending Reduction Act of 2012, which would offset the sequestration cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending with much-needed reforms to entitlement programs. Entitlements currently consume more than 60 percent of the federal budget, a percentage that is expected to only increase in coming years.