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Smith, DelBene Reintroduce Legislation to End Harmful Effects of Sequestration

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Washington, DC, March 28, 2017 | comments

Yesterday, Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, reintroduced the Relief from Sequestration Act, along with Reps. Conyers, Lujan Grisham, McGovern, DelBene and Jayapal. This legislation would end sequestration and the drastic, across-the-board cuts sequestration has inflicted on our economy. 

For years, the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) and its continued threat of sequestration have negatively impacted our economy, government, and harmed our nation.  The Relief from Sequestration Act of 2017 is designed to repeal the sequestration mechanism in its entirety.  This bill would end the threat of automatic, draconian cuts to important national priorities.

It is apparent that the mechanism of sequestration is not effective or necessary to spur the creation of a comprehensive deficit reduction plan.  In fact, the author of the 1987 law that first employed the sequester as an enforcement mechanism never intended for the sequester to be triggered; rather that only the threat of it be used to spur action and compromise.  Clearly, it has failed in that regard. The Relief from Sequestration Act of 2017 would end years of harmful and unnecessary cuts to discretionary programs by eliminating the automatic across-the-board cuts that are triggered anytime a discretionary account goes beyond the BCA caps.

“This bill does not deny the fact that we need a comprehensive, long-term deficit reduction deal.  We absolutely do.  This bill recognizes that discretionary spending accounts, and the economy, should no longer be held hostage by the threat of sequestration while Congress debates the larger revenue and mandatory spending changes that are fundamentally necessary,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA). “We have a deficit problem that must be addressed, but we should not damage our economy and undermine national security in the process.”

“We need a federal budget that will create jobs for struggling people, and will support stable growth in the economy that raises wages, helps ease the burden of putting food on the table, and ensures our nation doesn’t fall further behind countries that are investing in their future,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said. “That is why I’m proud to join with my colleagues to put an end—once and for all—to the self-inflicted crises that the Sequester represents.”

“It’s time to end the practice of indiscriminate, across-the-board budget cuts, which are fiscally irresponsible and harmful to our country and the services we provide to American families, veterans and small-business owners,” said Rep. Lujan Grisham (D-NM). “Instead, we need to pass a budget that creates jobs and provides stability to New Mexico working families and businesses, while reducing the deficit in a balanced and responsible way.”

“Americans need Congress to make the strong investments in our economy that will keep it growing for years to come. Both Democrats and Republicans understand the need to work toward long-term deficit reduction, and a key part of that strategy is revenue generated by investing in creating good jobs and growing our economy,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) said. “Our bill will address this by finally ending sequestration and the devastating cuts that have held back our economy for too long.”

“Working families need certainty and stability to plan and invest for the future. It’s time to stop budgeting from one manufactured crisis to the next, and work on bipartisan policies that will set the country on the right course through strategic investments in education, research, clean energy, job-training and infrastructure,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA). “That’s why I’m honored to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to stop the harmful and indiscriminate cuts from sequestration.”

“Sequestration is a kneejerk budgetary maneuver that has done little to reduce deficits and instead has done tremendous harm to the economy,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). “We need to make responsible investments without leaving American priorities hanging in the balance. Getting rid of sequestration allows us to focus on what really matters: serving the people.”

Background

Sequestration was originally manufactured to force Congress to make difficult decisions about deficit reduction.  Unfortunately, Congress failed to find a solution to reduce our deficit and the devastating mechanism of sequestration took effect.  Under sequestration, automatic and indiscriminate cuts were applied through fiscal year 2021, decimating discretionary spending.  The sequester forestalled the sound planning needed for meaningful investments in national security, the workforce, transportation infrastructure, education, health care, public safety, housing, innovation, small business development, and many other facets of enduring national strength.  These cuts have also had unacceptable and serious economic implications, hindering the recovery, and disrupting regular order in Congress. The solution must be to permanently end this misguided and ineffective policy.

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