Last Friday, with sequestration’s across-the-board, indiscriminate cuts looming and a host of outstanding issues still unaddressed, Speaker Boehner called a vote on whether the House should adjourn and return home for the week.
I voted against adjourning and said, “As precious seconds tick away, the House should be in Washington doing its job and finding a compromise to protect our economy. Speaker Boehner should reverse course, and keep the House in session.”
Sequestration was designed to spur bipartisan action in Congress to address our long-term fiscal outlook. When used in the past, that is precisely what happened. In fact, former-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) said: “It was never the objective of Gramm-Rudman [legislation that used sequestration in 1985] to trigger the sequester; the objective of Gramm-Rudman was to have the threat of the sequester force compromise and action.”
That is why it is appalling that with sequestration’s sweeping cuts looming, Speaker Boehner sent the House home from Washington over my objections.
Answering questions across eastern Connecticut
While I wait for the House to return to session, I am crisscrossing eastern Connecticut, meeting with groups that may be impacted by sequestration. I have explained to them not just what sequestration means, but reiterated that we need bipartisan cooperation to prevent it from happening.
Although much of the news reports about sequestration have focused on defense cuts, the non-defense cuts from sequestration are also troubling.
Of particular interest to municipal leaders, under sequestration there would be immediate cuts in programs like Title I aid to local schools systems, special education programs, Head Start resources, grants to first responders and law enforcement, small business assistance and reductions in the recently enacted disaster aid package for Hurricane Sandy.
While there is still a degree of uncertainty as to exactly how these reductions would be carried out, the simple fact is that the cuts from sequester will be felt broadly both in defense and non-defense priorities.
Already this week, I have met with the Metal Trades Council in Groton to discuss the impact of sequestration on the Navy’s budget for submarines.
I also visited St. Joseph’s Living Center in Windham and Generations Family Health Center in Willimantic, where there is very real concern that sequestration’s two-percent cuts to Medicare will impact their ability to care for the elderly and frail.
At Manchester Community College, President Gina Glickman said she is worried that cuts will affect the college’s mission.
And at EastCONN in Hampton – where they serve children with mental health issues – there is palpable concern that in northeast Connecticut alone, 40 children are slated to lose their slots in the Head Start program if these cuts go through.
Additionally, in response to my questions last week at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on sequestration, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert emphasized that in addition to averting the sequester, the Republican House still must act to pass an FY14 appropriations bill for the Pentagon to ensure that critical defense programs are adequately funded.
This inaction is simply unacceptable
The House has a job to do, and it must act to defuse sequestration. As Phil Gramm said, these cuts were designed to be so damaging, so indiscriminate, so dangerous, that Congress – no matter how polarized – would cooperate to find a solution that prevented the cuts.
Congress still has time to act. After hearing from men and women across eastern Connecticut who have very real and very justified concerns with sequestration’s cuts, we have no other choice.
As always, if my office can be of assistance in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Member of Congress – http://courtney.house.gov/
Washington, DC Office
Phone: (202) 225-2076
Norwich District Headquarters
55 Main Street, Suite 250
Norwich, CT 06360
Phone: (860) 886-0139