Because of Congressional inaction this week – and every week for the past two years, for that matter – sequestration, the automatic spending cuts put in place by the president, went into effect March 1. While I was hopeful we could reach an agreement that would make more prioritized spending cuts, the truth is Washington has a spending problem. We need to begin to cut the size and scope of the federal government. I would prefer more targeted cuts that would address real waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending. Unfortunately, the sequester plan was crafted by the president and rather than working with Congress to avoid the cuts he moved the goal posts by asking for yet another tax-hike. Despite the president’s calls for a so-called “balanced approach,” none of the spending cuts that he has claimed credit for have actually taken place, but his tax increases certainly have and are now permanently etched in law. Indeed, spending is significantly higher today than it was when he took office, even with sequestration.
As Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward pointed out, sequestration was the president’s plan all along. Furthermore, he and his Cabinet do have some discretion on how these cuts will be implemented, such as whether or not to fill vacant positions or to cancel conferences and non-essential travel. This week, the Senate voted on a plan to give the president even more flexibility under the sequester — spending would still need to be cut, but he would have greater flexibility to target cuts toward inefficient programs. But the president responded with a veto threat against this bill because it didn’t meet his demand for another tax increase to pay for even more government spending. While the Senate rejected this proposal, it also rejected a proposal by the majority that not only included tax increases but also actually increased spending.
Speaking of out-of-control federal spending, this Wednesday marked the 1400th day since the Democrat-controlled Senate last passed a budget. This is irresponsible, and we cannot hope to get our fiscal house in order without a budget. American families are making sacrifices to make ends meet amidst a weak economy, yet the federal government refuses to lead by example. We must create an environment in which American citizens may succeed, businesses may grow and people’s dreams of a better tomorrow may become realities. This starts by passing a budget and getting our economy back on track.
In other news, I am pleased to announce that the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (PAHPRA) passed the Senate unanimously this week. This legislation goes a long way towards strengthening existing programs and ensuring we are better prepared and able to respond to pandemic diseases and other threats, whether naturally occurring like a virus outbreak or deliberate like a chemical or biological attack. I hope my colleagues in the House quickly pass this legislation so the President can sign it into law as soon as possible.
On Thursday, I introduced a resolution to honor veterans who served in Vietnam by designating March 29 each year “Vietnam Veterans Day.” March 29 marks the anniversary of the day that combat and combat support units withdrew completely from South Vietnam.
Despite serving honorably and bravely in Vietnam, our soldiers arrived home to a country in political turmoil and never received the recognition they deserved. By setting March 29 aside as a day to remember and thank our Vietnam veterans, we can show our unified gratitude for their service and the sacrifices they made on our behalf. I hope communities throughout the country will take measures to commemorate this day and honor Vietnam veterans in their area.