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Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Before us is a defense bill and a Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill adjusting the FY 2012 funding levels to meet FY 2013 needs.

It is unacceptable that Federal agencies and departments covered by the 10 remaining bills would be forced to operate under full-year continuing resolutions based on planned spending levels enacted 15 to 18 months ago. Congress' failure to do our jobs and pass responsible annual spending bills limits our ability to respond to changing circumstances, implement other laws enacted by Congress, and eliminate funding that is no longer necessary.

Specifically, this bill will delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act scheduled to begin enrolling participants in October. Without IT infrastructure to process enrollments and payments, verify eligibility, and establish call centers, health insurance for millions of Americans would be further delayed. Last year's levels will hamper enforcement of Dodd-Frank protections against improper practices in the financial sector.

The bill underfunds Head Start, child care, essential for many working parents who would otherwise have to quit their jobs.

The bill fails to strike outdated language allowing HUD to use public housing agency reserves to fund operations or provide a requested increase to make up for the shortfall resulting in the lowest per-unit operating subsidy since 2007, despite rising housing costs.

The bill we consider today even denies increases for health care fraud and abuse control and Social Security disability reviews and SSI eligibility determinations, both of which return more money to the Treasury than they cost.

And the continuing resolution excludes loan guarantees for Jordan, necessary to help an important ally stabilize its economy.

The effects, my colleagues, of these outdated plans and spending levels in the continuing resolution are compounded by Congress' failure to replace sequestration with a balanced, responsible, long-term debt reduction plan. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that sequestration would cut economic growth in 2013 by a third. That's jobs. That's people's lives.

Last year, our fragile economy struggled to create a total of 2.2 million jobs. CBO says sequestration will wipe out, get rid of, 750,000 jobs, more than a third of all the jobs created last year.

Now, I want to make it very clear, my colleagues, this bill reaffirms sequestration. The terrible impact of those indiscriminate cuts will begin to take effect. This summer, we can expect significant flight delays and long lines at airports due to furloughs of air traffic controllers and a hiring freeze and reduced hours for transportation security officers.

Yesterday, the Labor-HHS Subcommittee, heard testimony from the directors of the National Institutes of Health and CDC on the detrimental effects these irresponsible cuts will have, including declining medical research, fewer child vaccinations, and reduced protections against epidemics. Just try and explain that to dear friends and neighbors who have children with autism, seniors who are dealing with Alzheimer's, friends who have heart cardiology issues. Just try and explain what the National Institute cuts in research will do. In addition to the impact in the research on these illnesses, these are real people who are going to be laid off and impede our future research.

All Americans rely on timely and accurate weather warnings and forecasts from the National Weather Service. Reduced resources will compromise critical satellites, radar, computer analysis, and modeling.

Now, I am pleased that two bills, the defense bill and the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill, are the FY 2013 bills that were agreed on by the House and the Senate. But, my colleagues, let's not forget that sequestration will still strike our national defense.

Even if this bill is enacted, another $46 billion will be subtracted from defense spending. Most of the civilian workforce will face significant furloughs, readiness will still face cuts, and defense health care will need to make some very tough choices with scarce resources.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this bill because it fails to take responsible steps to support the middle class in really tough economic times or responsibly address the long-term fiscal health of our Nation.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. McKeon, I just want to emphasize again that General Odierno in the recent appropriations hearing on the Defense bill testified that sequester would be a disaster for the military. And it's unfortunate that we are not ridding ourselves of the prospect of the disaster that the sequester bill will result in.


Mrs. LOWEY. I would just like to quickly remind my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that the Defense bill will be subject to the $46 billion as a result of sequestration, which General Odierno said will hollow out the force.


Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Before I yield to my next speaker, I would like to thank Mr. Frelinghuysen for addressing sequestration and the devastating testimony of all those representing our distinguished Armed Forces. But I would also like to clarify again that this continuing resolution reaffirms sequestration. It does nothing in language or deed to make any efforts to cancel sequestration. We on this side of the aisle would be very pleased to continue to work with you in regular order to go through every bill, casting away waste, fraud and abuse, but to do away with sequestration. And I know my distinguished chair and I could work it out so that we could not have sequestration.

This bill, section 3002, reaffirms sequestration.


Mrs. LOWEY. I yield to the gentleman from Kentucky.

Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Would the gentlelady be so kind as to talk to the majority leader in the Senate about sending us over a bill to relieve us of sequestration? And, two, would the gentlelady talk to her President to see if he would do that? We're ready to act.

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chairman, I would be delighted to work with you, but I have read this continuing resolution very carefully and section 3002 reaffirms sequestration. Let's work together. We can be the leaders. Let's send over a bill that does away with sequestration, which my good friend, Mr. Frelinghuysen, says--and I was at that defense hearing, too--would hollow out our forces. Let's do that. Let's do that today. Why don't you submit an amendment? Let's get rid of sequestration.

Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. If the gentlelady will yield, last year we voted twice in this body to replace sequestration, and it died because the Senate wouldn't take it up.

Mrs. LOWEY. I would be delighted, Mr. Speaker, to yield 1 minute to our distinguished leader, who has provided important leadership on the issue of cutting out waste, fraud, and abuse in our budget, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi).


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