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Mr. O'ROURKE. Mr. Chair, I rise today in opposition to H. Con. Res. 25 and in support of the Van Hollen substitute.
The majority has offered a budget that literally doubles down on the sequester. This would be a disaster for El Paso. It would mean twice as many Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) furloughs as they are already facing and longer lines at our bridges into the foreseeable future. Nearly 100,000 jobs in the El Paso region depend on the $80 billion in yearly cross border trade with Mexico. Longer lines at our ports of entry equals less trade and fewer jobs for El Pasoans. The majority budget includes a nearly $100 billion cut to Pell Grants for low-income students. At the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), 65% of students use Pell Grants to afford their education. It would mean deep and irresponsible cuts to programs my constituents rely on, including Medicare. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said the majority budget will result in 750,000 job losses this year. I cannot vote to put the future of so many El Pasoans at risk.
We need a credible, long-term plan that does not compromise the economic recovery now taking place. Although far from perfect, the substitute budget offered by Mr. Van Hollen comes closest to this goal. It fully replaces the sequester with a balanced mix of cuts and revenues and stabilizes our finances by reducing the deficit by $1.8 trillion over the next ten years. If passed, this budget would prevent the 750,000 job losses associated with the sequester. Ending the sequester will also prevent furloughs for 20,000 El Pasoans, including our Border Patrol agents and civilian employees at Fort Bliss. The Van Hollen substitute also ensures we maintain a strong national defense while acknowledging that our military will be downsizing as the result of two wars ending. I support it as the most reasonable budget offered; however, the Van Hollen substitute fails to offer a solution to strengthen Medicare and Social Security for the long-term.
We need a real budget that can get buy-in from both political parties. Instead of playing to the fears of the political extremes, why not work to find the middle and compromise? I came here to represent the interests of El Pasoans and govern responsibly. I hope that we can put the political posturing of this budget debate behind us and start finding real solutions.
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