February 11, 2014
“There are a number of serious problems with this legislation. This bill has profound implications in a number of different areas, and yet we did not have time to consider the legislation adequately to figure out the long-term impacts it will have.
“Through adding another year of sequestration, this legislation takes from folks who rely on Medicare and other mandatory programs, and from readiness accounts that prepare and train our troops. This is unacceptable. These are challenging issues that we need to address, but Congress keeps refusing to make difficult choices demanded of us. We are simply robbing one group of deserving people to pay for helping another group of deserving people. This is just a shell game, and it is irresponsible.
“By repealing the COLA provision that was just agreed to a month ago in this very body, we are forcing the Department of Defense to focus on personnel costs. Personnel costs continue to make up an increasingly large portion of the defense budget and it is squeezing out other portions, forcing cuts to readiness and procurement, which means that troops will not have the equipment and resources necessary to train and be prepared. This could lead to a hollow force that is not trained to fight the fights that we ask of them. Again, we are robbing one part of the Pentagon to pay for another.
“As far as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) or “Doc fix” portion of this bill is concerned, I think we need to fix it. Cuts to physicians’ Medicare reimbursement rates would negatively impact health care access for Medicare patients. I strongly support paying for a SGR fix, but this bill pays for it in the exact wrong way. I am willing to raise taxes and cut spending in other areas to do so, but paying for it through sequestration’s indiscriminate cuts to mandatory programs is irresponsible and unacceptable.”