U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita yesterday voted in favor of a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government at the lower spending levels required by sequestration through the end of the current fiscal year. The CR also prevents the President from furloughing meat inspectors, which would have affected more than 2,000 jobs in Carroll County alone, and more than 500,000 jobs at 6,200 meat and poultry processing plants across the country.
"This week, we took one more excuse off the President's table and forced him to join us in stopping out-of-control spending in Washington by passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) agreement that locks-in spending cuts enacted under sequestration. This is a significant accomplishment in the larger goal of eliminating the debt that threatens our future.
"Furthermore, this CR provides the President even more flexibility in addressing the cuts ordered under sequestration. No longer can he simply pick the most painful cuts, like furloughing meat inspectors or forcing longer lines at security airport checkpoints, simply to score political points.
"Make no mistake, the President is playing politics with sequestration. By furloughing meat inspectors, he would have threatened thousands of meatpacking jobs in Indiana while keeping nonessential bureaucrats on the federal payroll. We've succeeded in saving these Hoosier jobs while reducing the deficit," said Rokita.
Recently, the Obama Administration announced that beginning in July, USDA meat inspectors would be subject to furloughs. Since law requires that USDA inspectors must be on-site at every meat packing plant, many who work in the meat packing industry would have lost work due to plant shutdowns.
In response to this threat, both the House and Senate passed language in the CR to prevent the President from furloughing meat inspectors. There are many more cuts available to the Department of Agriculture, even within the Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).
The FSIS is comprised of 13 separate offices. Many of these offices include non-essential personnel, including administrative and support staff. The FSIS spends roughly $600 million on personnel compensation annually, with more than $81 million of that amount spent on Washington, D.C. personnel. The District of Columbia only has four federally inspected plants, and even prior to the CR, the President already had the option to furlough non-essential personnel rather than meat inspectors. The legislative language in the CR ensures that meat inspectors will not be furloughed.