Congress Must Find a Fix to Sequestration

Congressman Gerry Connolly
2013-07-31 17:39:45
Congressman Gerry E. Connolly - Representing the 11th District of Virginia � [image = connolly.congressnewsletter.net//images/user_images/Sequestration Rally.JPG] *(Congressman Connolly calls on Congress to cancel August recess and fix sequestration)* Dear Friend, This month, more than 650,000 civilian employees of the Department of Defense, including upwards of 72,000 in Virginia, were forced to take the first of 11 unpaid days off due to the failure of Congress to deal with sequestration. Over the past several weeks, more Northern Virginians have contacted my office about the civilian furloughs than any other issue. I share the frustration of these dedicated federal employees who, through no fault of their own, are being forced to take an abrupt and unplanned 20 percent pay cut. These furloughs aren�t limited to the Department of Defense. They are being felt throughout the federal government. �For example, on Friday, July 5th, the EPA, HUD, and the IRS completely shuttered their offices around the country, furloughing more than 115,000 employees, because of sequestration. This was the third such agency-wide shut-down in recent weeks. For some of these furloughed employees it means they must cancel a summer vacation or put off the purchase of a new car. But for others, the pay cut means that they won�t have the funds to pay their child�s college tuition, cover the co-pay for needed prescription drugs, or even put food on the family table. Sequestration and these furloughs didn�t have to happen. Since last August, I have joined other members of our regional congressional delegation, industry leaders, and federal employee groups in calling on Congress to find a balanced alternative to replace the sequester. And beginning last summer, I have consistently and repeatedly called on the House Majority leadership to cancel recesses and stay in Washington until we resolve the mess. On several occasions, I took to the House floor to object to Congress going into recess without dealing with sequestration, only to have my microphone shut off and the session gaveled to a close by the Majority. Repeatedly, my entreaties and the pleas of others in Congress have fallen on deaf ears. If only the House Majority would appoint negotiators to meet with their Senate counterparts to work out a federal budget that replaces the sequester with a balanced approach that includes responsible deficit reduction, we could end the furloughs and resolve sequestration. The Senate passed its budget more than 100 days ago. I believe it is a more responsible plan than the House-passed budget, known as the Ryan budget, which uses smoke and mirrors, unrealistic economic projections, and draconian cuts to achieve its nebulous goals. Among the many objectionable measures contained in the Ryan budget is the privatization of Medicare, increased medical costs for seniors, reductions in the SNAP food stamp program, and provisions to cut needy families and individuals from Medicaid. So far, the House Majority has refused to name any �conferees� to negotiate a budget compromise with the Senate. House Democrats have named their negotiators and their Senate counterparts are prepared to meet, but they need the House Majority at the negotiating table to move the process forward to reach a comprehensive budget agreement that ends sequestration and the furloughs. This intransigence on the budget and refusal to replace sequestration has real consequences for many families in Northern Virginia and will harm our local and national economies. Economists estimate that sequestration will result in the loss of more than 2 million jobs, while the Congressional Budget Office projects that sequestration will cut our nation�s rate of economic growth in half this year. I have always advocated a balanced approach where we pair strategic cuts with revenue enhancements, while maintaining critical investments that ensure our competitiveness in the global economy. We should be using a scalpel, rather than a meat axe to budgeting and deficit reduction. Unfortunately, the House Majority has refused to consider responsible, balanced alternatives. The victims of sequestration are our dedicated public servants and the constituents they serve. Sadly, what has become a common theme since House Republicans took control of Congress, the House Majority has repeatedly and routinely used federal employees as a punching bag. Our federal employees, who are on the front lines protecting and serving the public every day in our communities, have weathered more than two years of pay freezes with a third pending, and have made sacrifices in pay and benefits totaling more than $100 billion to help reduce our nation�s debt. Now, more than 650,000 of them must face another 20 percent reduction in pay. As Congress prepares once again to leave for August recess I will call on leadership to keep Congress in session until we address sequestration.� Our constituents and neighbors and the country deserve better. Sincerely, [image = connolly.congressnewsletter.net/images/user_images/Connollysig.jpg] Gerald E. Connolly Member of Congress 11th District of Virginia *Connolly Calls on Congress to Cancel August Recess* [link 1] *Connolly Tries to Call Congress Back to DC to Deal with Sequestration* [link 2] *Virginia Democrat on sequestration: Is it a crisis or not?* [link 3]
July 31, 2013

 

(Congressman Connolly calls on Congress to cancel August recess and fix sequestration)

Dear Friend,

This month, more than 650,000 civilian employees of the Department of Defense, including upwards of 72,000 in Virginia, were forced to take the first of 11 unpaid days off due to the failure of Congress to deal with sequestration.

Over the past several weeks, more Northern Virginians have contacted my office about the civilian furloughs than any other issue. I share the frustration of these dedicated federal employees who, through no fault of their own, are being forced to take an abrupt and unplanned 20 percent pay cut.

These furloughs aren�t limited to the Department of Defense. They are being felt throughout the federal government.  For example, on Friday, July 5th, the EPA, HUD, and the IRS completely shuttered their offices around the country, furloughing more than 115,000 employees, because of sequestration. This was the third such agency-wide shut-down in recent weeks.

For some of these furloughed employees it means they must cancel a summer vacation or put off the purchase of a new car. But for others, the pay cut means that they won�t have the funds to pay their child�s college tuition, cover the co-pay for needed prescription drugs, or even put food on the family table.

Sequestration and these furloughs didn�t have to happen.

Since last August, I have joined other members of our regional congressional delegation, industry leaders, and federal employee groups in calling on Congress to find a balanced alternative to replace the sequester. And beginning last summer, I have consistently and repeatedly called on the House Majority leadership to cancel recesses and stay in Washington until we resolve the mess.

On several occasions, I took to the House floor to object to Congress going into recess without dealing with sequestration, only to have my microphone shut off and the session gaveled to a close by the Majority. Repeatedly, my entreaties and the pleas of others in Congress have fallen on deaf ears.

If only the House Majority would appoint negotiators to meet with their Senate counterparts to work out a federal budget that replaces the sequester with a balanced approach that includes responsible deficit reduction, we could end the furloughs and resolve sequestration.

The Senate passed its budget more than 100 days ago. I believe it is a more responsible plan than the House-passed budget, known as the Ryan budget, which uses smoke and mirrors, unrealistic economic projections, and draconian cuts to achieve its nebulous goals. Among the many objectionable measures contained in the Ryan budget is the privatization of Medicare, increased medical costs for seniors, reductions in the SNAP food stamp program, and provisions to cut needy families and individuals from Medicaid.

So far, the House Majority has refused to name any �conferees� to negotiate a budget compromise with the Senate. House Democrats have named their negotiators and their Senate counterparts are prepared to meet, but they need the House Majority at the negotiating table to move the process forward to reach a comprehensive budget agreement that ends sequestration and the furloughs.

This intransigence on the budget and refusal to replace sequestration has real consequences for many families in Northern Virginia and will harm our local and national economies.

Economists estimate that sequestration will result in the loss of more than 2 million jobs, while the Congressional Budget Office projects that sequestration will cut our nation�s rate of economic growth in half this year.

I have always advocated a balanced approach where we pair strategic cuts with revenue enhancements, while maintaining critical investments that ensure our competitiveness in the global economy. We should be using a scalpel, rather than a meat axe to budgeting and deficit reduction. Unfortunately, the House Majority has refused to consider responsible, balanced alternatives.

The victims of sequestration are our dedicated public servants and the constituents they serve. Sadly, what has become a common theme since House Republicans took control of Congress, the House Majority has repeatedly and routinely used federal employees as a punching bag. Our federal employees, who are on the front lines protecting and serving the public every day in our communities, have weathered more than two years of pay freezes with a third pending, and have made sacrifices in pay and benefits totaling more than $100 billion to help reduce our nation�s debt. Now, more than 650,000 of them must face another 20 percent reduction in pay.

As Congress prepares once again to leave for August recess I will call on leadership to keep Congress in session until we address sequestration.  Our constituents and neighbors and the country deserve better.

Sincerely,


Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress
11th District of Virginia

Twitter Facebook Youtube rss

Washington, DC Office
424 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-1492
Fax: (202) 225-3071
Annandale Office
4115 Annandale Road, Ste. 103
Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: (703) 256-3071
Fax: (703) 354-1284
Prince William Office
4308 Ridgewood Center Dr.
Woodbridge, VA 22192
Phone: (703) 670-4989
Fax: (703) 670-6042