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Mr. PALAZZO. I want to thank the good doctor from Tennessee for yielding me some time.
Mr. Speaker, in 2 weeks we face one of the most devastating cuts to our military that our country has ever seen, literally, a worst-case scenario for our men and women in uniform, all in just 2 weeks.
For a year and a half, several of my colleagues and I have been discussing with anyone who will listen the devastating impact of these automatic budget cuts, but still we have stalled and delayed till we are where no one in their right mind would want to be.
If these cuts are not stopped, not only will our military be hollowed out, but a number of other agencies will be severely impacted as well. Defense cuts are bad enough. Unfortunately, these cuts affect a lot more than just defense. These automatic cuts affect food inspections at the Department of Agriculture, FBI investigations, TSA screening at airports, and others. No agency is untouched.
One example in Mississippi alone is it is anticipated that these automatic budget cuts could cost as many as 845 jobs in the education sector alone. These are the people we task with educating our future generations and ensuring our country's success.
We're now hearing of furloughs across the government agencies. This would mean that families that are dependent on that paycheck to put food in their children's mouths and clothes on their backs will be forced to stay home as much as 1 day a week for up to 22 weeks.
This means millions of dollars in lost pay for dedicated public servants because Congress and this President cannot get their act together and do what is right for our country.
At this point, the House has passed two separate plans that were never even considered by the Senate. Ultimately, inaction by the President and Senate are allowing us to inch closer and closer to the disgusting reality of these cuts.
Even more disappointing than the Senate and the President's inaction is the ridiculous position of many that seem completely content to throw their hands up and say that we have done all we can do.
But I am perhaps the most disappointed in my colleagues that want these cuts to take place in the name of spending cuts only. What good are spending cuts when you can't defend the Nation you are trying to save and destroying our economy in the process?
I am in favor of reducing our national debt and balancing our budget as much as anyone in this Congress, but I refuse to do it on the backs of our men and women in uniform and their families. I will not jeopardize their safety and security, yet some in this body want to do just that.
It is foolish--no, naive--to believe that allowing $1 trillion in spending cuts to our national defense is responsible or sustainable. Many of my colleagues seem to have forgotten that these automatic cuts were intended to be the absolute worst thing we could do. It was designed to force bipartisan action on addressing our spending addiction in this Congress. It is the unintended consequences of an absolute failure by the supercommittee. So, instead of using a scalpel, we're using a meat-ax, and the impact of our failure to act will soon be all too apparent unless we avert this irresponsible action.
Despite repeated requests for over a year for more details on what effects these details will have, only now, 2 weeks before they are scheduled to take place, have we received any information from this administration.
The military services have let us know exactly what effect they think sequestration will have, and it is not a pretty sight. We are talking about one of the biggest drivers of small businesses, a major employer of our Nation's veterans, and a major economic driver in our economy. And some here are willing to see it slashed for no benefit whatsoever.
But civilians are not the only issue here. We are downsizing our force to deal with the cuts already in place--$487 billion worth. We will have to cut further into our active duty if these cuts are not rolled back and replaced responsibly.
In my district, over 10,000 people walk through the gates of Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi every day. If just one ship contract is cancelled as a result of sequestration, we are talking about thousands of people being immediately unemployed and layoffs at small businesses in over 49 States. These are some of the most patriotic and hardest working people I have ever met in my life. They have dedicated their lives to building the greatest naval ships the world has ever seen.
So this week, I spoke with our most senior military leaders, and they told us very directly, if you want our military to continue doing what it's doing today, then we can't give you another dollar.
There are similar stories across the Nation at plants building the largest planes to the smallest component parts. These are the stories of real people who go to work every day to make America a better place. These skills are not easily relearned. Once they go away they are gone forever, and I will not stand by and allow inaction by my colleagues to kill American jobs.
I ask my colleagues: Is this what you want? Do you honestly believe this is for the best?
I beg anyone to explain to me how we're a better country if these cuts take place.
Mr. Speaker, I implore our leaders, the Senate, and the President to act. The future safety and security of our Nation is at stake.
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