By Representative Alexander
At the stroke of midnight March 1, every government program, good and bad, received a hack job. These arbitrary, across-the-board cuts are known in Washington as the "sequester." While I believe spending is the problem, the president's sequester is not the best approach to get it in check. This is why the House Republicans have taken actions to lead by example.
We passed two bills on two separate occasions to replace the sequester with smarter cuts and reforms that will help balance the budget within a decade. Like the American people, we understand the importance of living within our means, and out-of-control spending must be addressed in a meaningful, responsible manner. Unfortunately, the Senate did not take similar action.
The House has also produced budgets that slash spending and promote the growth of our economy, since Republicans took over the majority. In fact, the last House-passed budget slashed spending by more than $4 trillion. Conversely, it has been nearly four years since a Senate budget has seen the light of day, and the release of President Obama's budget request has been pushed back until April.
Additionally, House Members are setting an example in Washington by following the common-sense precedent put forth by our hardworking citizens--do more with less.
This week, news dispersed that Members' Representational Allowances (MRAs) were taking a nearly double-digit cut to what we were expecting just last month to reflect the reduced spending levels. MRAs are the operational accounts given to Congressional Members to manage their offices. According to the sequester order issued by the Office of Management and Budget, MRA authorizations must be adjusted. To achieve the reduction, the 2013 MRA authorization each Member received February 15 has been reduced by 8.2 percent.
My office began preparing for this expected cut some time ago by scaling back in every area we can. Even with the expansion of the 5th Congressional District at the start of the year, we are successfully doing more with less just like the American people.
The situation we find ourselves in today is both unique and difficult, but it did not happen overnight. The Continuing Resolution (CR), which passed the House today, reflects the hard choices that must be made. This legislation funds essential federal programs and services, maintains national security, and prevents a potential government shutdown, all of which is accomplished by bringing the top-line overall rate of spending in the CR down to the sequestration level of approximately $984 billion.
No side of the aisle is going to get all that they want or believe is best. There is no claim by either party to have found the perfect way out. However, we must move beyond words and lead by example. Hopefully, the Senate and president will adhere to the same frame of mind as House Republicans and American families.