Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) delivered remarks today at a luncheon hosted by the Maryland Space Business Roundtable, an organization focused on the growth and development of aerospace-related business in our state. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Maryland is proud to host world-class aerospace facilities like Goddard Space Flight Center, the Applied Physics Laboratory, NOAA, and Pax River Naval Air Station.
"Our state also benefits from the work performed by companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, ATK, and others that are constantly seeking new and creative ways to move their businesses forward while furthering our technological and research capabilities.
"When you add the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins into the mix, it's pretty clear that Maryland's combined aerospace assets are second to none, making us well positioned to continue our growth into the future.
"I know that foremost on many of your minds today is the budget sequester that is beginning to take effect.
"Dysfunction in Congress, unfortunately, has triggered this series of automatic and irrational spending cuts, which could -- and, I believe, will -- do serious harm to our national security, our economic recovery, and our ability to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
"I have opposed allowing these cuts to take effect not only because of the harm they could cause to millions of America families and businesses, but because of the impact they could have right here in the Fifth District.
"While, thankfully, it appears that NASA Goddard Space Flight Center may not be as severely affected as some other NASA centers, we are still likely to see local businesses that contract with NASA and with the military, like many of you here today, take a significant hit. That is likely to mean contracts reduced or eliminated, leading to possible lay-offs.
"This is unacceptable to me. We should be doing everything we can to give you every opportunity for your businesses to do well and continue to grow and sustain middle-class jobs here in Maryland.
"The sequester will also significantly cut research funds to universities and graduate students, which will reduce the number of young Americans who choose to enter the STEM fields to become the future scientists and engineers that businesses like yours will need to remain globally competitive.
"Congress owes it to you and your employees -- and to all in our country who will be affected -- to turn off the sequester by reaching a balanced agreement to restore fiscal discipline. The sequester's impact will not be felt immediately but gradually over the coming weeks and months, so we still have time to fix this problem before your businesses have to face the worst of it.
"But, only through compromise can Congress achieve the balanced solution necessary to do so. That's why I have been promoting a compromise approach for months and continue to push for it now.
"We cannot afford to keep moving from one manufactured crisis to the next. Doing so only creates greater uncertainty for businesses like yours and for your employees. Instead of creating another crisis that could lead to lay-offs, Congress should be focused on how to help our private sector create jobs.
"A balanced solution will also help us afford the investments we need to make our economy more competitive and encourage the growth of jobs, especially in the areas of science, technology, and advanced manufacturing.
"I will continue to make job creation a priority and will be relaunching the Make It In America legislative agenda for the 113th Congress in the coming weeks. But we must make it our immediate priority to turn off an irrational and irresponsible sequester that could prevent so many of our businesses and families from making it in America.
"The Fifth District is likely to be hit especially hard by these cuts. That only means that I'm going to work that much harder to limit their negative effects -- and I will.
"But without compromise in Congress, there is little that can be done.
"That's why, as I told the employees of Goddard Space Flight Center this morning, we need more Members of Congress to visit your companies and NASA facilities like Goddard and see the important work you all are doing.
"In the weeks ahead, I will continue to promote a balanced solution that can avert the full impact of these cuts on our District and on your businesses. Congress must set aside partisanship and embrace its responsibility to engage in sound policymaking.
"As President Kennedy said about America's projects to explore space: we choose to do them "not because they are easy, but because they are hard.'
"You perform the work you do in support of our exploration and discovery of space not because it is easy. You do it because it is incredibly worthwhile and challenging and enriching to the people of our planet.
"I am incredibly proud to represent you and your work in Congress. There can be no delay in meeting our budget challenges, as your work hangs in the balance -- work that helps enrich our nation and strengthens communities here in Maryland.
"Thank you, and I look forward to your questions."