Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) voted against the House Republicans' Continuing Resolution to fund the government, which holds spending levels reflecting the cuts made in the 2011 Budget Control Act, from which we will see sequestration cuts to Medicare and the Pentagon. Rep. Engel voted against the Budget Control Act, and has repeatedly called for a bipartisan solution to the nation's financial situation.
"I thought it was a stupid idea in 2011, and it's still a stupid idea. The sequester cuts were supposed to have been so incredibly bad that it would force both parties to work together and develop a bipartisan plan to address the deficit. However, we are now voting on a budget which accepts these outrageous cuts. This is not good governance -- the sequester takes a meat clever approach to budget cuts rather than the necessary fine scalpel. We should do this the right way -- budget cuts and revenue increases. Instead, Congress is acting irresponsibly, moving from temporary budget bills, and hacking away at vital programs like an explorer clearing the jungle with a machete," said Rep. Engel, a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The latest Continuing Resolution continues the deep cuts from the Budget Control Act -- from which the sequester further slashes. When that bill was passed, Rep. Engel called it a "recipe of gridlock" and that the cuts' impact on low-to-middle income families was unacceptable. "This was the case in 2011, and it remains the case today. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of working families and seniors, despite what the Tea Party-led House Republicans believe," said Rep. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The sequester cuts hit close to home for everyone. In the 16th District of New York, the cuts would amount to a loss of over $200,000 for local colleges and the Bronx Botanical Gardens. School Districts in regions of Westchester County would lose over $1.1 million, with the bulk of the losses coming from Yonkers and Mount Vernon. Bronx County as a whole would lose $19 million. "With these losses in funding will come the loss of jobs. Of course, students will suffer the most as a result. Factor in the job losses and service reductions in Head Start, work study programs, health inspections, law enforcement, and countless others, and you have very real hardships faced by millions of people. Women and children who benefit from the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutrition program for low-income families suffer from the almost $700 million reduction in funding nationwide from FY 2012. This is the real face of these budget cuts," said Rep Engel.
He added, "The sad part is -- this is completely avoidable if both parties just sat down and made some sacrifices to settle the budget battles once and for all. Democrats are ready to do so -- we are waiting for our counterparts to agree."