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Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I rise in opposition to this piece of legislation.

The Editorial Board of USA Today was scathing yesterday in its assessment of where the blame for this sequester should lie, and I quote:

No Members of Congress should be surprised at the havoc wrought by the sequester. After all, they caused it, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood repeatedly warned them about its sentences.

But flight delays are just the tip of the iceberg visible above the water line for most Americans. As time goes on without a big, balanced deficit solution to replace the sequester, more of that iceberg will surface. More Americans will be negatively affected.

While I want to end these delays for passengers in Maryland and across the country, I will oppose this bill because it fails to address the whole impact of the sequester.

Let me share just a handful of examples of how the sequester will affect Americans:

Education: Head Start--70,000 children will be kicked out of Head Start. Nothing in this bill deals with them.

Furloughs to cause delays in processing retirement disability claims. Nothing in this bill deals with them.

Nutrition for Vulnerable Populations--4 million fewer Meals on Wheels for seniors; 600,000 people dropped off WIC. Nothing in here for them.

Housing--125,000 fewer HUD rental assistance vouchers. Nothing in here for them.

Unemployment Insurance--emergency unemployment insurance cut 11 percent for 2 million out-of-work Americans. Nothing in here for them.

FDA--2,100 fewer food safety inspections, an 18 percent cut; longer waits to approve new drugs. Nothing in here for them. Nothing in here for them.

Defense and Homeland Security--furloughs equivalent to 1,000 fewer Federal agents, FBI, Border, et cetera, on the job; one-third of combat air units are grounded. Nothing in here for them.


Mr. HOYER. IRS--89,000 agency-wide furloughs up to 7 days, including taxpayer-assistance centers. Nothing in here for them. They serve 89,000 taxpayers trying to find help.

We ought not to be mitigating the sequester's effect on just one segment when children, the sick, our military, and many other groups who will be impacted by this irresponsible policy are left unhelped. Instead of dressing this serious wound with a small Band-Aid, let's get to work on a real solution. Let's go to conference, let's get a big deal, let's deal with all the adverse consequences of sequester, not just those that affect the powerful air travelers of America. We ought to help them, but we ought to help everybody else as well.


Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Let me inform my friend from Iowa that he absolutely misstates my position. I have been against the sequester every year I was on the Appropriations Committee for 23 years, these across-the-board cuts. I opposed your Cut, Cap, and Balance bill, which you supported, which had sequester as the alternative.

The President is against sequester, the Senate budget is against sequester, and you would not allow us to offer an amendment four times, which would have precluded sequester, not only for air travel, but for those Head Start children, for those senior citizens, for basic biomedical research.

So I tell my friend, if you are going to state the facts, state them correctly.


Mr. HOYER. The Republicans offered their bill. It was called ``Cut, Cap, and Balance.'' They voted on that bill before we ever got to sequester. In Cut, Cap, and Balance, your alternative, if you didn't reach your numbers, was sequester. Sequester was your policy.

And in the CR that you had Mr. Rogers bring to the floor, which I voted against when it went from here to there, as did every Democrat, it said it was going to be subject to the sequester or nothing.


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