I'm deeply disappointed that Members of Congress are leaving Washington to return to their districts today without addressing a number of critical issues. Congress has not finished its work on a budget. We have not reached an agreement to replace the arbitrary spending cuts known as the sequester. We have not enacted bipartisan legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1.
With only a few weeks until federal workers at military installations in the Fifth District and throughout Maryland begin to experience furloughs, Congress must take action as soon as possible to replace the arbitrary spending cuts under the sequester with smart, strategic spending cuts that are part of a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Both the House and Senate have passed their budgets, and it's time for Congress to finish our work on a final budget that will replace the sequester and put our country on a fiscally sustainable path. Yesterday, I went to the House Floor to urge my colleagues to work toward a bipartisan agreement. Here's some of what I had to say:
"On July 12, Mr. Speaker, civilian defense personnel at the Pax River Naval Air Station, which I represent, are scheduled to begin furloughs as a result of the sequester. That's not just a personal concern to me -- it's a concern to their families. But more broadly than that, it's of concern to the national security of every American citizen. Those folks are among the hundreds of thousands of civilian defense workers in Maryland and across the country who are set to be furloughed next month unless Congress acts."
"Congress can end these arbitrary and irrational cuts by replacing the sequester in its entirety as part of a big and balanced solution to deficits."
"Our Ranking Member on the Budget Committee Chris Van Hollen, has tried seven times to bring to this Floor legislation to exactly modify this policy so we have a rational national-security-protecting, vulnerable-citizens-protecting alternative while saving and getting to the same budget-deficit-reducing number -- the same. However, our Republican colleagues have refused the opportunity to consider that on this Floor."
"We hear a lot about the Speaker saying "let the House work its will.' Seven times -- seven times we have asked this House leadership to give us the opportunity to work our will. The best way to achieve a balanced alternative to the sequester and put America's fiscal house in order would be through a bipartisan agreement on a budget."
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It is also unfortunate that Congress has not reached a bipartisan solution to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling from 3.4% to 6.8% on Monday, July 1. I have continued to urge my colleagues to take action to keep rates low so that students and their families can afford to pursue higher education. I'm hopeful that when we return from the district work period next week, the House will bring a bipartisan solution to the Floor for a vote.
As always, thank you for allowing me to share this update with you, and please continue to share your concerns and insights with me by contacting my office or connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
With warmest regards, I am,
Steny H. Hoyer