Calls On Rules Committee Republicans To Allow Vote On Sequester Alternative
WASHINGTON -- House Rules Committee Ranking Member Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) chided the House Republican leadership for failing to address the looming sequester cuts, which will have a devastating impact on jobs and the economy on March 1 if the government does not act. Instead of considering alternatives to the sequester, House Republicans are instead targeting middle-class federal workers with another pay freeze.
"Instead of working to stop the sequester, Republicans in the House would rather go after their favorite punching bag - middle-class federal workers - and then take a week off," Congresswoman Slaughter said. "It's shameful that a nurse working at a V.A. hospital and a custodian working in a federal building haven't had a pay raise in two years because the House GOP thinks middle-class and working families should bear the entire burden of reducing our deficit."
The sequester, which is set to take effect in just seven legislative days, will result in $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts that would halve our economic growth and according to a George Mason University study, would result in the loss of over 2 million jobs. Over half of these job losses would come from small businesses, which would lose up to $540 million in loan guarantees, threatening job creation and undermining our economy. These cuts would severely harm numerous domestic programs from Head Start, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to the National Institutes of Health, to the Small Business Administration. However, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will offer an amendment today that would replace the sequester's across-the-board cuts with more targeted cuts while reforming the tax code and ending subsidies to Big Oil.
"Stopping the job-killing sequester must be our first priority here in this chamber," said Congresswoman Slaughter, "but the Majority seems content to fiddle while Rome burns. It's time for House Republicans to suspend their crusade against middle-class federal workers and get to work on stopping these sequester cuts from wreaking havoc on our economy and costing us 2 million jobs."
Middle-class federal workers have already contributed $103 billion toward deficit reduction through pay freezes and changes to retirement benefits. According to the Employment Cost Index, which measures changes in private sector wages and salaries, private sector pay has increased over the past three years by a total of 4.7%, while federal employee pay has remained frozen since January 2011. Like other middle-class Americans, federal employees are not immune to increases in the costs of living, and many have suffered severe losses in the values of their homes and retirement accounts.