“This budget agreement is a difficult but necessary first step toward bringing federal spending under control. It is also one, among many, tough decisions we’ll face as we work to find a delicate balance between the need to invest in our recovery and the need to address an unsustainable debt that threatens our future.
“This is not an ideal compromise, but compromises rarely are. While we have successfully cut spending by nearly $79 billion and kept the federal government open for the remainder of the fiscal year, there are many provisions in this bill that are difficult to swallow. Unfortunately, throughout this effort, Republicans have targeted cuts at only a small sliver of federal spending that disproportionately goes to many who need help most right now.
“Thankfully, we have successfully fought back against some of the most drastic and painful cuts Republicans have proposed. Instead of being shut out, thousands of homeless veterans will receive new vouchers to find safe and secure housing under this agreement. Instead of being drastically cut, Head Start will continue to provide low income children with the same early learning advantages available to other kids. And instead of being turned away, women will still have access to local care for cervical and breast cancer screenings, prenatal care, and family planning services. These are fights we shouldn’t have had to have in the first place, but they are important wins nonetheless.
“If we are going to find common ground in the debates ahead, Republicans need to be willing to focus on ideas that work, not ideology. Too often they have used our debt crisis as cover to push ideologically driven ideas like cutting women’s health care, putting environmental protections on the chopping block, and dismantling social safety nets. Republicans know that abortion services in the District of Columbia, or clean air standards, or Wall Street reform efforts aren’t adding to our national debt, yet they continue to target these programs in an effort to cater to the most radical elements of their party. This needs to end.
“It’s time to have an honest conversation on the real drivers of our debt and deficit, and about the choices we have to address them in the midst of a fragile economic recovery. This week, Republicans have introduced a plan that will end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it while simultaneously providing $1 trillion in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. I believe this is the wrong approach. Instead, I believe that we must continue to protect seniors and our most vulnerable while ensuring that everyone – including the wealthiest Americans – bear some responsibility for balancing the budget. I also believe that any real discussion on long term debt and deficit reduction must include cuts to wasteful defense spending and must take steps to bring our men and women in uniform – who have done everything we have asked of them – home to their families.
“Like all Washingtonians, I don’t want to see my grandson’s generation inherit the deep debt that has been built up over the last decade, but I also don’t want him to inherit crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, or an economy in which he can’t achieve the same dreams as his parents or grandparents. It’s time to move forward with a balanced, honest, and responsible approach to deliver opportunity for future generations.”