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Public Statements

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget, Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I thank Senator Levin for the work he has done to look at the tax loopholes that should be closed and to bring attention to really the fairness we should have in our Tax Code.

I am here to join my colleagues in talking about the importance of passing a budget that will address our debt and deficits and protect middle-class families while investing in our future job growth. I applaud Senator Murray for her leadership and the work of the Budget Committee in bringing this document before us.

We have made significant progress in the last few years to get the American economy growing, and we have taken real action to reduce our deficits, but there is more we can do on both fronts, and the budget before us addresses both of these urgent priorities in a responsible way.

No one is questioning the need to address our debt and deficits. The question is, Can we do this in a responsible way? Can we come together in a way that protects our economic recovery?

Unfortunately, because of continued political stalemate, we have seen the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration go into effect. Now we need to come together to support a plan to address these harmful automatic cuts because they are hurting small businesses. They are having an impact on our economic recovery. They are forcing furloughs of public employees--in New Hampshire, people such as our Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers and our air traffic controllers. They are creating economic uncertainty that is putting our economic recovery in jeopardy.

I have had the chance to travel around New Hampshire in the last month or so and talk to companies that are concerned about the impact of these automatic cuts. One of those companies I visited is called Cirtronics, which is a manufacturing company in Milford, NH. The company employs about 150 people, and it manufactures a diverse array of products, from circuit boards, to medical equipment, to defense and homeland security products. Cirtronics doesn't have any direct government contracts, but many of its clients do. As a result, the company is facing a lot of uncertainty under sequestration. According to its CEO, Geraldine Ferlins, this uncertainty is getting in the way of the company's growth. She said:

How do you plan without knowing how you will be affected? You hear about how CEOs are hesitant to hire. This is why.

Another company in Salem, NH, called Micro-Precision Technologies is a small, family-owned business with about 20 employees that makes semiconductors used in the military, aerospace, medical, and communications industries. About 80 percent of Micro-Precision's business is with the Department of Defense. Sequestration has meant that their orders are down about half for the month of January. They had been planning to hire two new people, but unfortunately they cannot do that because they are so uncertain about what is going to happen.

That is why we need a better approach to addressing our budget situation. We need a plan that looks at all areas of our spending--at our domestic, at our defense, at our mandatory programs--as well as at revenues through tax reform. That is exactly the approach that was taken by the Budget Committee in passing out the budget resolution that is before us this week. That is why I supported it. It replaces the harmful cuts under sequestration with a balanced mix of responsible spending cuts as well as additional revenues. So instead of across-the-board cuts, the budget makes targeted cuts to several areas. It cuts health care spending without harming beneficiaries; it reduces defense spending cuts, as we wind down our operations in Afghanistan; and it results in reduced interest payments on our debt.

The budget also provides a balanced approach by ending, as Senator Levin pointed out, the unfair tax breaks for the wealthiest and for big corporations. I certainly applaud Senator Levin and Senator Whitehouse, and I was really glad to hear that Senator McCain has joined them in addressing these unfair tax breaks.

The budget does all this, and yet it still invests in our economy in a way that allows it to grow. It provides much needed funding for our aging transportation infrastructure. It creates an infrastructure bank that is a bipartisan idea that allows us to get a greater bang for the taxpayer buck. There is no doubt that we have to do more to fix our debt and deficits, but we need to do it in a smart, responsible way. That is what this budget does.

I certainly hope we will be able to come together this week to replace the harmful cuts under sequestration with a comprehensive and responsible plan for addressing our debt and deficit. That is why I intend to vote for this budget--because it does exactly that.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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Mrs. SHAHEEN. I wish to thank my colleague from Georgia Senator Isakson for his eloquent and thoughtful remarks in support of the biennial budgeting amendment. I am proud to join him as a cosponsor of this amendment and a cosponsor of the legislation we introduced last week, in fact.

I am pleased to point out on the floor with us is Senator Angus King, my neighbor from Maine, who is also a sponsor of biennial budget legislation.

I appreciate we have the budget resolution before us. I think it is an important step toward returning to regular order. But the fact is, as my colleague just pointed out, since 1980, we have only had two budget processes that have finished on time, according to schedule. We have had every President since that time, since Ronald Reagan, endorse a biennial budget. As my colleague said, I have been there and done that. As Governor of New Hampshire, as the Governors of 19 other States, we have biennial budgets. It has worked very well--because as this amendment would do, and as the biennial budget process would do, it would give us the chance to spend the first year of the budget cycle working on the budget, looking at programs and preparing for the budget and then the second year in oversight, so we can make sure what we are spending our money on is effective and is doing what we want it to do. It would give us a more transparent process and would, hopefully, allow us to address what has been one of the real challenges we have faced in Congress; that is, getting a budget through on time, according to the process.

As my colleague from Georgia pointed out, as we think about addressing the debt and deficits facing the country, as we think about investments we need to make going forward, thinking about how we can use the process in a way that is more effective, that works better, is something we also ought to be including. We have had a lot of momentum that is built around the biennial budget legislation. In the last Congress, we had 37 bipartisan cosponsors. We had the support of then-budget chair Kent Conrad and ranking member Jeff Sessions. So we have some momentum. I think we clearly have an opportunity. I hope we will take advantage of it and that our colleagues will support this effort.

I thank my colleague for his leadership.

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