Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) called the series of automatic budget cuts -- known as sequestration -- a "stupid" plan which will have an extremely negative impact on families and the nation. Rep. Engel voted against the original Budget Control Act of 2011 which triggered the sequestration process, and has voted against every measure related to it since. Rep. Engel appeared on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopolous" this weekend where he called the sequester cuts "stupid" and urged Congress to work together to find a way to put aside partisan bickering in favor of fiscal responsibility.
"I thought it was a stupid idea in 2011 and I still think it is a stupid idea. The cuts were supposed to have been so ridiculously bad that it would force both parties to come together and develop a bipartisan plan to address the deficit. The cuts take a meat cleaver to the budget when a fine scalpel is what is required. Of course, we are now facing the inevitability of sequestration -- its implementation by week's end. The answer to the problem is simply a balanced approach which features cuts and revenue increases. This is the only way to avoid this haphazard and irresponsible way of bringing the debt down," said Rep. Engel.
The effect on New York would be devastating in many ways:
Education-- Primary and secondary education would lose just under $43 billion, putting close to 600 teaching jobs at risk. In addition, over $36 billion in funds for education for children with disabilities would be lost, risking about 440 jobs.
Work-Study-- Around 4500 fewer low-income students would receive aid to finance college, and over 4100 students would fail to earn work-study jobs to help pay for college.
Head Start-- Approximately 4300 children in New York would not be able to receive Head Start or Early Head Start services.
Clean Air/Clean Water-- Almost $13 million in environmental funding to New York would be lost, putting water and air quality at risk. Another $1.2 million in grants for fish and wildlife protection would disappear.
Military Readiness-- Approximately 12,000 civilian Defense Department employees in New York would be furloughed, losing over $60 million in pay.
Law Enforcement/Public Safety-- New York would lose about $780,000 in Justice Assistance Grants to support public safety and law enforcement.
Public Health-- New York will lose over $1 million in funds to help respond to public health threats, such as diseases and natural and manmade disasters. Over $5.7 million in grants to treat and prevent substance abuse would also vanish.
Child Care-- Approximately 2,300 disadvantaged and vulnerable children would lose access to child care. Over 7,000 children would not receive necessary vaccines.
Violence Against Women-- New York would lose over $400,000 in funds to provide services to victims of domestic violence.
"These are just a few of the ways New York will be hit by the sequester cuts, and this is just one of 50 states. The implications of this policy are far-reaching and consistently devastating. The cuts will touch so many aspects of life -- including food safety, research and innovation, small business loans, mental health treatment, border patrol, aviation safety, veterans' services, homeless programs, and the list goes on. The cuts to the Pentagon could lead to decreased safety measures being implemented in our embassies and consulates worldwide -- which must not be weakened, especially after the incident in Benghazi. Congress must act in a sensible manner to avoid these irresponsible cuts and pass a balanced approach to deficit reduction. It is responsible governing to strike a balance, and it is what the American people are asking us to do," added Rep. Engel.
Rep. Engel is the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.