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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. President, I thank the majority leader.

I feel the need to respond to the comments from the leader about the sequester that has gone into effect. I wish to be very clear. The flight delays that are occurring, the furloughs among air traffic controllers, and the shutting down of air traffic towers are entirely, utterly unnecessary. This is a willful choice being made by this administration in order to inflict as disruptive a process as possible on the American public and on our economy, all to further a political agenda. The political agenda is to attempt to convince the American people there are no circumstances under which we can ever cut spending at all.

If you question why I say this is a willful decision on the part of this administration, I would refer you to legislation Senator Inhofe and I offered prior to the beginning of the sequestration. This legislation, as you may recall, would have granted to the administration complete flexibility in how they achieved the savings of the sequester.

What we hear from the administration, administration officials, and White House spokespeople is that this is terribly unfortunate, but they have no choice and no alternative; the law requires that they make these cuts. However, when Senator Inhofe and I introduced legislation to explicitly grant them all the flexibility they could ask for, complete flexibility to find the most wasteful, most redundant, most unnecessary programs, and to cut there instead of cutting essential services, what did the administration say? They said: If you send us the legislation, we will veto it. They put out a Statement of Administration Policy insisting that this was a terrible idea, to give them the flexibility to avoid exactly what they are doing.

I don't know how one can come to any conclusion other than that this administration wishes to impose this inconvenience, this disruption, and this cost on the American people and our economy. They have it within their ability to accept the device we were offering, which would have allowed them to avoid this entirely.

I am extremely disappointed the administration would choose to inflict this kind of harm to our economy, this kind of inconvenience to our travelers, all for the purpose of furthering a political agenda. This is no way to run this government.

What I would suggest we do is we revisit the legislation Senator Inhofe and I offered which would have avoided all of this, allowed us to cut some of the waste, excess, duplication, and avoid all of this inconvenience. This is entirely unnecessary, and it is unacceptable.

One of the proper functions of any executive, including the President of the United States, is to look throughout the spending over which he or she has control to find the lowest priority, to find the least necessary and least disruptive way to achieve the savings we need. We are running unacceptably large deficits. We have a huge debt that is already costing this economy the kind of growth we ought to have.

The very modest savings of the sequester could be achieved in a way that wouldn't be disruptive at all. The size of the Federal budget has more than doubled in the last 12 years. To suggest that it is not possible to find 2.5 percent savings is simply ridiculous. It is not true.

I urge my colleagues, let's fix this. We know how to do it. We have the tools available. Senator Inhofe and I offered. There are other ways, and I would be open to any number of them. We need to achieve the savings of the sequester, and we need to do it in a way that is not disruptive and that can be done.

I yield the floor.

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