News Releases

Murray Urges Colleagues to Support Balanced Sequestration Replacement Bill

Feb 26 2013

Discusses impact of sequestration on Washington state families and communities

Watch video. (Senator Murray begins speaking at 02:53:05)

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Tuesday, February 26th, 2013, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray delivered a speech on the Senate floor in support of the Democratic proposal to replace the across the board budget cuts from sequestration.  Murray discussed the ways the Democratic proposal would protect hard-working families and seniors in Washington State from bearing the burden of deficit reduction alone.  She also talked about the fact that this proposal contains a balanced mix of responsible spending cuts and new revenue from the wealthiest Americans, and she called on her Republican colleagues to work with Democrats on a balanced and bipartisan replacement.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

“We should replace sequestration in a balanced way—and then we should move forward on a fair, comprehensive budget deal that provides certainty for families and businesses. I know my constituents in Washington State want to see a deal, because if we are unable to find a fair replacement for sequestration, everything from our military bases to our schools will be affected.” 

29,000 local civilian Defense employees could be furloughed. Thousands of Washington students could lose access to Head Start services and basic education resources. 1000 workers cleaning up dangerous nuclear material at the Hanford site could be furloughed for weeks. And Washington State's military bases could face hundreds of millions in cuts to crucial areas like new aircraft acquisition, research and development, flying hours, and ship operations.”

“…I truly believe all of us know there is a smarter way to reduce our debt and deficit. We can do better than throwing up our hands and permitting across-the-board cuts to go into effect. And we know the American people deserve better.”

“Replacing the sequester with evenly divided spending cuts and revenues—the balanced approach Americans support—would put us on a path to end the pattern of governing by crisis for all of our constituents.  And it would enable us to get to work on a long term budget agreement that is fair to the middle class, gets our debt and deficits under control, and reflects the values and priorities of the American people. The American people want a balanced deal—let’s deliver.”

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:

“Madam President, one of my colleagues recently said something that, after a week at home with our constituents, I’m sure we’re all feeling. 

“Referring to the across the board cuts from sequestration that are just days from going into effect, he said, ‘When it’s in your state or your backyard, it’s devastating.’

“Madam President, I think this is exactly right.  They would be devastating for our families, our national defense, and our economy.

“But they can still be avoided if Congress comes together on a balanced replacement.

“We should replace sequestration in a balanced way—and then we should move forward on a fair, comprehensive budget deal that provides certainty for families and businesses.

“I know my constituents in Washington State want to see a deal, because if we are unable to find a fair replacement for sequestration, everything from our military bases to our schools will be affected. 

“29,000 local civilian Defense employees could be furloughed.

“Thousands of Washington students could lose access to Head Start services and basic education resources.

“1000 workers cleaning up dangerous nuclear material at the Hanford site could be furloughed for weeks.

“And Washington State's military bases could face hundreds of millions in cuts to crucial areas like new aircraft acquisition, research and development, flying hours, and ship operations.

“We are days away from allowing these kinds of impacts to begin in all of our home states.

“We never should have reached this point, but there is no denying why we have.

“Madam President, we are days away from sequestration because my Republican colleagues continue to insist that, while it’s fine to cut programs that families and communities depend on, the wealthiest Americans shouldn’t have to make further contributions to deficit reduction.

“The last few years have been difficult ones for bipartisanship, Madam President.

“But I truly believe all of us know there is a smarter way to reduce our debt and deficit.

“We can do better than throwing up our hands and permitting across-the-board cuts to go into effect.

“And we know the American people deserve better.

“That is why Democrats have put forward a credible, responsible plan to replace sequestration.

“Our legislation builds on the precedent set in the year-end deal, and it is in line with the balanced approach the American people favor.

“It would replace half of the first year of sequestration with responsible spending cuts, and half of it with revenue from those who can afford it most. 

“Our bill calls on the wealthiest Americans to pay at least the same marginal tax rate on their income as middle-class families pay, and would eliminate needless tax breaks for oil and gas companies and companies shipping jobs overseas.

 “At the same time, it would make responsible cuts.

“Our bill would eliminate direct payments to farmers that have been paid out even during good times, and for crops farmers weren’t even growing.

“And as the drawdown from Afghanistan is completed, our bill will make adjustments to our military that are in line with a strong 21st century strategy.

“This legislation meets Republicans halfway.

“It would protect the families and communities we represent from slower economic growth, fewer jobs, and weakened national defense. 

“And it would allow us to move past sequestration, towards working on a fair, comprehensive budget deal that provides certainty for American families and businesses.

“Madam President, my Republican colleagues will say that the year-end deal closed the door on using revenue to bring down the deficit.

“They’ll say that all we need is spending cuts.

“But that’s not how the American people see it.

“More than a month after the year-end deal, 76 percent of Americans—and 56 percent of Republicans—favor a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases to reduce the deficit.

“House Republicans have put forward a plan that does the opposite.

“They passed a bill last Congress that would replace only the automatic defense cuts.

“It would force struggling, hardworking families and seniors to bear the burden of deficit reduction.

“Their bill didn’t include a penny of new revenue, and it is unclear if it would even be able to pass the House this Congress if they brought it for a vote. 

“What House Republicans offered, in other words, was more of the same extreme and partisan approach that has led American families and our economy from one crisis to another.

“It’s what we saw when Republicans held up funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, stalling airport construction projects and putting tens of thousands of workers’ jobs at risk.

“It’s what we saw during the debt ceiling debate when Tea Party Republicans held our economy hostage, fighting for fiscal policies that economists across the spectrum say are hugely irresponsible.

“It’s what we saw less than two months ago, when Republicans waited until the very last minute to protect 98 percent of Americans from income tax hikes.

“This strategy, which puts a wrong-headed ideology above American families and our economy, just doesn’t work.

“And Republicans latest strategy, to just let the sequester happen is even worse

“In fact, as Tea Party Republicans in the House cheer on the sequester here is what is being produced by companies in states all across the country.

“This is what’s called a WARN Notice – but that’s just Washington talk for what it really is: a layoff notice or a furlough notice.

“If Republicans choose to block our balanced approach to replace the sequester this is what going to begin arriving in a matter of days at the doorstep of workers across the country.

“This piece of paper is what’s going to spell serious economic setbacks for families, for their ability to send their kids to college, and for the economy of their communities.

“This will be the consequence of Republicans’ complete unwillingness to compromise.

“Now Madam President, I think we can all agree our workers shouldn’t have to worry about political posturing putting their jobs at risk.

“Businesses certainly shouldn’t have to think about elected officials holding the economy hostage to advance extreme ideology. 

“And families shouldn’t have to wonder one month what their paychecks will look like the next month, just because of a debate in Washington, D.C.

“So I’d like to ask my Republican colleagues to seriously consider our proposal. 

“Replacing the sequester with evenly divided spending cuts and revenues—the balanced approach Americans support—would put us on a path to end the pattern of governing by crisis for all of our constituents. 

“And it would enable us to get to work on a long term budget agreement that is fair to the middle class, gets our debt and deficits under control, and reflects the values and priorities of the American people.

“The American people want a balanced deal—let’s deliver.

“Thank you.”