ICYMI: Chairman Murray Holds Senate Budget Committee Hearing on the Impact of Sequestration on the Economy and National Security
Today, Chairman Murray and the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing about the impact defense sequestration is having on national security, veterans, families and communities,
“At a time when too many Americans are still struggling to find work, civilian defense employees are being furloughed, and small businesses are struggling to stay afloat, our economic recovery and our military preparedness is suffering.” Chairman Murray said at the hearing today. “While I believe there are responsible spending cuts to be made in defense programs—the current across-the-board cuts and future arbitrary spending reductions over the next 8 years as part of sequestration are not the answer.”
Jennifer-Cari Green speaks with Chairman Murray
Photo Credit: AFGE
Witnesses Testify at the Hearing
Photo Credit: AFGE
Chairman Murray emphasized the impact defense sequestration is having on both our economy as well as our national security.
“Especially during this time of global uncertainty, we need to maintain a strong national defense that allows us to meet today’s international threats, and be prepared for those of the future. And, we need to be investing in job creation and long-term economic growth— not causing furloughs that in turn will hurt families and the economy, as well as small businesses and service members alike all across the country.”
“Democrats and Republicans spent a lot of time over the last two years talking about how devastating these cuts would be. A number of my Republican colleagues traveled around the country to talk about the ways that sequestration would ‘hollow out the military.’”
“And Republican Members of this Committee joined Democrats in saying that the cuts from sequestration should be reexamined by Congress. But despite all of our efforts, and despite Democrats’ willingness to make some tough decisions to find responsible savings to replace sequestration, we haven’t come to an agreement yet. And if sequestration isn’t replaced, the effects on our economy and our national security over the long-term will only get worse.
“Earlier this month Secretary Hagel sent a letter to the Armed Services Committee describing some of the expected impacts if sequestration happens in fiscal year 2014 and DoD is forced to cut another $52 billion. For DoD personnel, civilian employees would face continued furloughs or layoffs, and a hiring freeze could remain in effect. For military members—involuntary separations, a freeze on promotions, and other actions would be required.”
“There is bipartisan agreement that sequestration is the wrong way to cut spending—and bipartisan agreement that something needs to be done to fix it. So there is absolutely no reason for us to get closer and closer to October 1st—and closer and closer to another manufactured crisis—before getting to work on a solution.”
“It won’t be easy, but the families we represent are looking to us to end the constant artificial crises and political brinksmanship that is threatening our fragile economic recovery and our national security—and work together to replace sequestration responsibly.”
Read the letter Secretary Hagel sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Jennifer-Cari Green and Mark Klett testified about the impact defense sequestration is having on family budgets and small businesses
Jennifer-Cari Green, a secretary in Neurosurgery and Plastic Surgery Services at Madigan Army Medical Center, testified about how furloughs caused by sequestration have made life more challenging for her as a single mother and college student.
“It is extremely difficult to come to work, and do justice to this job, to care for our patients with the level of compassion, patience, concern and courtesy they deserve when you know you don't even have enough money to buy the bare necessities as a working adult. To know that all your efforts at being a hardworking, self-reliant, and dependable woman and mother are for naught. To know that you had an implicit contract, a promise to receive a certain level of pay for your work, and that you accepted a job under those conditions, and then to spend all day away from your child, struggling against seemingly impossible odds to meet a mission and provide quality care in less time than seems fair.”
“To overextend yourself to try to be as helpful and understanding as possible, to make sure the patients aren’t the ones who suffer when so much of what determines their fate lies far beyond your own control. And then at the end of the day, to have to still worry about whether or not your lights will be shut off, or if you even have enough gas to make it to go pick up your child and take him home for supper.”
Jennifer also attached her furlough calculator to illustrate the impact that the furlough has on her personal budget.
Read Jennifer Cari Green’s full testimony and see her furlough calculator here.
Mark Klett, a service-disabled veteran small business owner described how his business has been affected by sequestration.
“I am a small business owner, and a disabled veteran who proudly served my country in the U.S. Navy for over 20 years as a Surface Warfare Officer—I dedicated my life to national security when I was 18 years old and enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy.”
“It is often said small businesses are the backbone of the economy and it is true. Many of my business peers have had their backs broken. Sequestration creates a competitive disadvantage for small businesses. Due to the aforementioned delays and gaps in work, I have had to put nearly 30% of my work force on the bench or overhead for as little as two weeks and as long as two months this year. With no approved budget, or appropriations bill - no government agency, prime contractor or subcontractor can plan beyond a few months. No one can plan beyond 30 September 2013.... As a small business owner – and an American citizen – I ask Congress to work together for the good of the country to help sustain jobs by giving us a combined budget that results in the expeditious passing of appropriations bills that can be executed.”
Read Mark Klett’s full testimony here.
Robert Work testified about the ways in which defense sequestration is impacting national security and the military preparedness of the United States.
“First and foremost, the cuts will surely cause a further alteration to our national military strategy and force-sizing construct. For a global superpower, maintaining a force capable of fighting one major war and denying the objectives of an opportunistic aggressor in a different theater would seem to be the absolute minimum requirement. However, sequestration will make it virtually impossible to maintain this minimum standard. The associated defense cuts will inevitably result in a less capable future Joint Force that is less ready and less robust than at any time since the end of the Cold War.”
“This spiral will continue and accelerate through FY2014 and FY2015, as the Department scrambles to hit the yearly $52 billion sequestration budget marks.”
“I was a young Second Lieutenant in 1975. When I arrived on Okinawa, at the tail end of the post-Vietnam War defense drawdown, I was utterly shocked at the condition of our forces. I lived in a barracks infested with rats and vermin. Our equipment was in shambles. We had little money to train with and even less to spend on such things like toilet paper or office supplies. We were not remotely ready, and it was utterly demoralizing. Unless we change the mindless way sequestration has been implemented, I see us headed down a similar path, which will take several years to undo. “
“As I said earlier, the way sequestration is being implemented will inevitably result in a less capable future force that is less ready.”
Read Robert Work’s full testimony here.
Senators Warner, Whitehouse, Kaine and King emphasized the harmful effects of defense sequestration, and the importance that Congress act to fix the problem
Senator Warner called sequestration a “bad business plan for America,” asking “… not as a Democrat or a Republican but as a former business investor, would you ever invest in a business that spent less than 5 percent of its revenues on training and educating its workforce, staying ahead of the competition, and research and development, and investing in plant and equipment, which as a nation is our infrastructure?”
He also noted that “Our constant shuffling from crisis to crisis has left businesses from Northern Virginia to Norfolk unable to plan more than a few months in advance, costing them valuable resources and limiting their ability to guarantee workers stable employment…If we don’t come together in Congress and find a permanent replacement for sequestration – a broad, bipartisan agreement that includes both tax and entitlement reforms, as well as smarter spending cuts – we will continue to see this type of waste and inefficiency. This is no way to do business”
Senator Whitehouse said that sequestration is “stupid, painful, and damaging,” and emphasized the value of Ms. Green’s testimony, noting that “when it comes right down to people, this is really hurting people.”
Senator Kaine said, “The president cannot make an ill-behaved Congress behave… While it would be comforting to put the blame on someone else, I don’t think we can…We ought to be having a budget conference…We need to listen, we need to compromise.”
And Senator King agreed that, “I haven’t yet heard anybody say a good word about sequester in this building for the past six months, but we still have it…and we are paying a national security price.”
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