Ms. CLARKE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my disappointment with the budget sequester that seems almost certain to occur. These automatic budget cuts will become effective tomorrow, Friday, March 1, 2013 unless Congress acts immediately. Many of my Democratic colleagues have proposed serious alternatives to the cuts, which I fully support.
Since the start of the 113th Congress, House Republicans have failed to bring a single bill to the floor that would prevent the cuts. The sequester will harm every American, especially the constituents of my district.
Estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrate that the Women, Infant and Children nutrition program will be unable to assist between 600,000 and 775,000 individuals. Low income families depend on food assistance programs. Too many children in my district come to school hungry, which leads to the inability to focus on their schoolwork.
Sequestration will also undermine federally-funded programs that provide low income, underinsured, and uninsured women access to breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic testing. The women in my community need these programs to receive proper treatment.
Layoffs and furloughs to the Social Security Administration will slow the processing of Social Security applications. Many of my constituents who are retired or have disabilities depend on Social Security. Americans have worked for their Social Security benefits, and have the right to expect service.
As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am concerned about cuts to airport security. This issue has enormous importance to me and my fellow New Yorkers, many of whom work in airport security at JFK and LaGuardia airports. The cuts present serious risks to the workers at these airports and to our national security. These men and women have dedicated their lives to serving this country to keep it safe. A reduction in security workers will increase complications in air travel and increase the possibility of danger to this nation and its people.
The sequester will also harm small businesses, by reducing support for loan programs administered by the Small Business Administration as well as government contracts, and training program for small businesses. I am extremely sensitive to the plight of small businesses, as a member of the Small Business Committee.
I urge my colleagues to prevent these cuts to important programs. Our constituents want us to compromise to prevent these drastic cuts. In the words of Mohandas Gandhi, ``The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.'' We swore an oath to defend, protect and serve this country. Americans are depending on us to make the right decision. We should not delay a vote. We need to come together, make a decision and protect the interests of the people we represent.