Connolly calls on Congress to cancel August recess and fix
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
Member of Congress
11th District of Virginia