“Over the past three years, sequestration and its drastic and across-the-board cuts have negatively impacted our economy, disrupted our government, and harmed our nation. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have long called for ending the sequester. This week, I introduced the Relief from Sequestration Act of 2016 (H.R. 4512) to repeal the sequestration mechanism in its entirety. My bill would end the threat of future government shutdowns and looming draconian cuts to important national priorities.
“H.R. 4512 would end years of harmful and indiscriminate cuts to discretionary programs by eliminating the $1.2 trillion of discretionary reductions that are required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and that will again take effect in 2018. My bill does not deny the fact that we need a comprehensive, long-term deficit reduction deal. We absolutely do. This legislation recognizes that discretionary spending accounts, and the economy, should no longer be held hostage by the threat of sequestration while Congress debates and acts on the larger budget changes that are fundamentally necessary. We have a deficit problem that must be addressed, but we should not continue to damage our economy and undermine national security in the process.
“The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, released earlier this week, eliminates the sequester after 2018 and recognizes that sequestration was never intended to be implemented, but was instead meant to force Congress to have an honest conversation about the budget. The sequestration mechanism is not necessary to reduce our deficits. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement signed into law last October began to address our budget challenges in a more balanced way, but the looming threat of sequestration continues to limit the ability of government to plan in the long term. With the threat of sequestration eliminated, Democrats and Republicans in Congress can finally come together and focus on crafting and implementing a stable and responsible budget that reflects our nation’s priorities without a looming budget threat.”
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 arbitrary 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, slowing the recovery, and disrupting regular order in Congress. While Congress has succeeded in negotiating proposals to minimize the immediate impact of sequestration, these are set to expire within a few years. The solution must be to permanently end sequestration.