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CBC Hour: The Impact of Sequestration

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. FUDGE. I thank the gentleman for yielding. And I certainly do want to thank Congressman Jeffries for once again leading the Congressional Black Caucus Special Order hour on another timely and important topic: the impact of sequestration.

Mr. Speaker, here we are. It is March 4, and the Congress and the administration are still mired in political gridlock with no resolution on how to avoid the across-the-board cuts, destructive as they may be, and untargeted sequestration cuts. How irresponsible.

Many communities around the country are still reeling from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Let us not forget that the national black unemployment rate remains in double digits at 13.8 percent, far higher than the national rate. Now these communities can only watch as the sequester threatens to roll back the modest gains of the last few years.

The Office of Management and Budget estimates that title I education funds could be eliminated for more than 2,700 schools. This cut alone will have an impact on nearly 1.2 million disadvantaged students. In my home State of Ohio, the public schools are preparing for the loss of $25.1 million in funding for primary and secondary education. You tell me, Mr. Speaker, what have children done to deserve this impact of sequestration?

The sequester will impact every neighborhood and every household. No matter your race or your age, the sequester will have an impact on your life.

What does the sequester mean for our economy? What does it mean for our neighborhoods? What does it mean for your household? It means cuts to education. The jobs of 10,000 teachers are now at risk. It means cuts to small business. Small business loan guarantees will be reduced by up to $540 million. It means cuts to food safety. There will be roughly 2,100 fewer food inspectors. It means compromising workplace safety. Workers will be less safe due to about 1,200 less safety inspections. It means cuts to mental health funding. Up to 373,000 mentally ill adults and emotionally disturbed children will go untreated.

The American people expect and deserve more. While Congress debates the policies of deficit reduction, our struggling communities must cope with the consequences of our inaction. While politicians argue over tax cuts, our cities and towns--rural and urban--become less secure. Our children's futures become less secure. Our children are important.

We could talk all night about how and why we got here, but many of you at home, our constituents, only want to know how we're going to end the sequester, escape this fiscal limbo and set our Nation back on the right track.

The path to prosperity is built on compromise. As long as House Republicans insist on the Grover Norquist cut-only approach to budgetary health, Congress will not move forward. Simply put: A cut-only plan will not work. A true path forward will be a compromise built upon raising revenues and targeted cuts.

Just last week, this caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, delivered a plan to House leadership on how to responsibly replace the sequester. The CBC budget replaces the sequester with commonsense cuts and revenue options that don't make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Mr. Speaker, this constant cycle of fiscal calamities and cliffs is bad for the Nation. It's bad for our economy, and it is bad for our people. We were sent to Congress to move America forward. Time has run out for games. The sequester is not a game. It means real cuts that will affect the lives of real people.

Again, I thank the gentleman.


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