Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D- Hawai"i), released the following statement on the two-year Bipartisan Budget Act, which the Senate voted 67 -- 33 to advance today, and which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week. From Senator Schatz:
"In a divided government, the people expect responsible leaders to find ways to govern and work together. For too long, the United States government has been lurching from crisis to manufactured crisis and using short--term stop gaps to fund the government -- eroding the American people's confidence and hurting the economy.
"This two-year budget moves us beyond the reckless threats of government shutdown, and lays a clear path to end sequestration and restore the appropriations process that Hawai"i depends on, so I will support the agreement. Washington has to cooperate and work with President Obama to move the country and our economy forward. While this is not the exact bill I would craft on my own, this is much-needed cooperation in a town where compromise has become a dirty word.
"This agreement rolls back the senseless sequester cuts that have unfairly hurt Hawai"i's middle-class families and our economy. The irresponsible sequester slashed important programs in our state from Meals on Wheels to Head Start, and caused workers to be laid off or furloughed through no fault of their own. The bipartisan budget agreement finally provides relief from the sequester and a path forward to get our economy on the right track. The budget prevents a $20 billion defense cut from hitting next month, which would have disproportionately hurt Hawai"i. The agreement keeps 25,000 federal civilian workers in Hawai"i from being furloughed, and it protects Social Security and Medicare benefits. This agreement is good for Hawai"i."
The two-year Bipartisan Budget Act negotiated between the Senate and the House provides $63 billion of sequester relief, increasing spending caps for both defense and non-defense discretionary spending so federal appropriators can finish appropriations bills for the next fiscal year. Without a budget agreement, lowered spending caps set by sequestration had caused federal appropriators to stop work on fiscal year 2014 spending bills. The budget agreement sets spending levels at $1.012 trillion this year and $1.014 trillion next year -- up from the sequester-set level of $967 billion which would have gone forward this year without this agreement.