Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, today we find ourselves in the midst of yet another manufactured crisis that threatens our economic recovery. Last Friday marked the beginning of $85 billion in arbitrary, across-the-board cuts to key domestic priorities and defense programs.
How did we get here? The Budget Control Act of 2011 created an automatic sequestration plan that was designed to be so senseless and so painful that Democrats and Republicans would be left with no choice but to come together to craft an alternative. Yet, the sequestration that was never supposed to happen has begun.
The impact of these cuts will be real. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that sequestration will reduce GDP by .6% and cost about 750,000 jobs by the fourth quarter of this year. These alarming figures don't even take into account the impact cuts will have on federal protections and services for American families.
Reductions in FDA funding that will result in fewer scheduled food safety inspections and delays in new drug approvals.
Reductions in substance abuse and mental health programs that will result in nearly 400,000 adults and children with serious mental illnesses going without treatment.
Reductions in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), resulting in delayed or halted scientific and medical research. Reductions in funding for the Aids Drug Assistance Program, resulting in thousands fewer patients having access to HIV medications, and reductions in funding for Centers for Disease Control (CDC), resulting in over 400,000 fewer AIDS tests being conducted this year.
Reductions in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), resulting in cuts in public health and environmental protections, including reductions in safe drinking water and wastewater treatment projects, water quality permitting, air quality monitoring, and hazardous waste cleanups.
Nearly 4 million individuals receiving federally funded unemployment benefits will face an 11% cut in their weekly payments. The WIC nutrition program for low-income pregnant women, infants, and young children could be forced to turn away over 700,000 women and children by the end of the year and 100,000 families could lose their housing vouchers.
California will be particularly hard hit by the deep cuts to defense spending. Billions of dollars and an estimated 225,464 jobs related to aerospace and defense are at risk.
We have an obligation to put partisanship aside and make budget decisions that reflect the priorities of the American people. President Obama has offered to work with Congress on a comprehensive plan to reduce the debt, create a fairer tax system, and rebuild the middle class, all of which are necessary to strengthen the economy and maintain our ability to compete. Democrats have introduced legislation that takes such a balanced approach, and I urge the Republican leadership to allow it to come to the floor for a vote.