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“This amendment maintains the principle that Democrats will not abandon, that sequestration should be replaced evenly across defense and non-defense investments.”

 

“Gimmicks and lip service are not enough for me, and I don’t see why they are enough for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle”

 

“…replacing these automatic cuts in a fair and responsible way is an important part of moving toward an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few”

 

**VIDEO available upon request**

 

(Washington, D.C.) Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced an amendment to the Senate Republican Budget that would build on her bipartisan budget deal and replace the automatic budget cuts from sequestration evenly across defense and non-defense investments for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Unlike the gimmicks currently in the GOP budget, Senator Murray’s amendment proposes a real solution to addressing the automatic cuts that Democrats and Republicans agree are terrible policy.

At the end of 2013, Senator Murray and Representative Paul Ryan worked with their colleagues to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act, which prevented another government shutdown, rolled back sequestration evenly across defense and non-defense discretionary spending for two years, and moved Congress away from the constant crises. Sequestration is set to kick back in this October.

Excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

...we know there is bipartisan support to replace sequestration in a balanced and fair way. Not only did we prove that with our bipartisan budget deal, but Democrats and Republicans across the country have continued to come out against the senseless cuts to defense and non-defense investments.

Instead of using just a tiny fraction of the enormous cuts this budget has in it to pay for investments that both Republicans and Democrats agree must be made, [the GOP budget] relies on a gimmick and increases OCO funding to appear to patch over the problem on the defense side, but then doesn’t actually allow for the increased OCO funding to be spent, and does nothing at all for non-defense investments like education, research, jobs, or infrastructure.

Gimmicks and lip service are not enough for me, and I don’t see why they are enough for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially given the deliberate choice not to use any of the $5 trillion in cuts to pay for some relief—a choice that should greatly concern anyone who genuinely wants to fix this problem.”

…we all know there is going to have to be a solution to these automatic cuts. President Obama has said that he wouldn’t sign spending bills that lock in sequestration. And the fact of the matter is that we simply can’t make the investments we need, on both defense and non-defense—if these caps remain in place.  We should be able to give our Appropriations Committees the guidance they need to write responsible bills at bipartisan levels, and not wait for another crisis to hit before we come together and make a deal.

And we believe that replacing these automatic cuts in a fair and responsible way is an important part of moving toward an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

M. President, as many of us have said here before—a budget is far more than simply numbers on a page.

A budget is a statement of values, of priorities, of the kind of nation we are—and the kind of nation we want to be.

For Democrats, that means our budget should help us move toward an economy that is built from the middle out, not the top down, and a government that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

When Democrats wrote our budget last Congress, we made our values and priorities crystal clear.

We put jobs, economic growth, and the middle class first.

We replaced the automatic budget cuts evenly across defense and non-defense investments with an equal mix of responsible spending cuts, and revenue raised by closing wasteful tax loopholes used by the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

We addressed our long-term deficit and debt challenges fairly and responsibly.

And we kept the promises we’ve made to our seniors and families.

The Republican House didn’t simply accept our budget, of course.

But I am very proud that coming out of the terrible government shutdown at the end of 2013—we were finally able to break through the gridlock and dysfunction to reach a bipartisan budget deal that put in place a budget for two years, prevented another government shutdown, and rolled back the worst of the automatic cuts.

That deal wasn’t the budget I would have written on my own, and it wasn’t the one Republicans would have written on their own, but it ended the lurching from crisis to crisis, helped workers and the economy, and made it clear that there is bipartisan support for rolling back sequestration in a balanced way.

Our bipartisan deal was a strong step in the right direction—and I was hopeful that we could work together to build on it.

But M. President—Republicans have taken a very different approach this year.

Instead of building on our bipartisan budget deal—this Republican budget would be a huge step backwards.

Instead of moving us toward a government that works for all families, this budget would push us toward a government that works for the wealthy and well-connected, but leaves the middle class and working families behind. 

M. President—we know there is bipartisan support to replace sequestration in a balanced and fair way.

Not only did we prove that with our bipartisan budget deal, but Democrats and Republicans across the country have continued to come out against the senseless cuts to defense and non-defense investments.

But in this Republican budget, a budget that aims nearly 70 percent of all its spending cuts at programs that combat poverty, that cuts more than a trillion dollars from Medicare and Medicaid, that calls for a total of $5 trillion in spending cuts.

In this budget, my Republican colleagues couldn’t find even a single penny to pay for more investments in education, research, or defense investments for this coming year?

Just to put that in perspective, the budget agreement that I reached with Chairman Ryan in 2013 found $85 billion in savings to pay for sequester relief over two years.

That’s less than 2 percent of the total savings this Republican budget claims to have in it.

And yet, the across-the-board cuts to both defense and nondefense priorities remain in place.

M. President, why is that?

Instead of using just a tiny fraction of the enormous cuts this budget has in it to pay for investments that both Republicans and Democrats agree must be made.

It relies on a gimmick and increases OCO funding to appear to patch over the problem on the defense side, but then doesn’t actually allow for the increased OCO funding to be spent, and does nothing at all for non-defense investments like education, research, jobs, or infrastructure.

M. President, I know my Republican colleagues are sincere when they say they want to find a way to increase the caps, especially for defense purposes.

But this budget simply does not do that.

Gimmicks and lip service are not enough for me, and I don’t see why they are enough for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially given the deliberate choice not to use any of the $5 trillion in cuts to pay for some relief—a choice that should greatly concern anyone who genuinely wants to fix this problem.

So M. President, I come to the floor to I offer another way, a way that would make it clear that we will, in fact, fix these senseless across-the-board cuts.

My amendment builds on the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and extends the replacement of sequestration through fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

This amendment maintains the principle that Democrats will not abandon, that sequestration should be replaced evenly across defense and non-defense investments. 

And it builds on the idea that sequestration should be replaced with a mix of responsible spending cuts and new revenue raised by closing wasteful tax loopholes used by the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

By providing Defense with real resources to replace the sequester cutsit gets rid of the OCO gimmick added in committee.

Finally, it includes language to automatically release the additional defense and nondefense funding to the Appropriations Committee upon the increase in the statutory caps, similar to language passed in the previous Senate Budget.  

M. President, we all know there is going to have to be a solution to these automatic cuts. 

President Obama has said that he wouldn’t sign spending bills that lock in sequestration.

And the fact of the matter is that we simply can’t make the investments we need, on both defense and non-defense—if these caps remain in place. 

We should be able to give our Appropriations Committees the guidance they need to write responsible bills at bipartisan levels, and not wait for another crisis to hit before we come together and make a deal. 

M. President, I know there are Republicans who understand how devastating the automatic cuts are for our defense and non-defense investments. 

I know there are Republicans who understand the value of investing in jobs, infrastructure, education, and research. 

I know there are Republicans who have seen the impact of sequestration in their states the way I have seen in my home state of Washington. 

And I know there are Republicans who look at this budget and wonder why it couldn’t use some of the trillions of dollars in cuts to reinvest in American innovation or in our defense investments.

So I am ready to work with any Republican truly interested in building on our bipartisan budget deal in a balanced and responsible way.

And I know my colleagues will stand with me.

Because M. President to us, this is about middle class economics—plain and simple.

We believe that when working families do well, they spend more, they boost demand, and they grow the economy in a healthy and sustainable way.

We believe that when low-income families are offered a hand up and an opportunity to get better jobs, earn more, and join the middle class, that means more taxpayers, less of a need for housing and nutrition support—and a growing economy.

We believe that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations should pay just a bit more toward their fair share. 

And we believe that replacing these automatic cuts in a fair and responsible way is an important part of moving toward an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

So I urge my colleagues to support this amendment so we can agree on responsible and realistic topline spending numbers for this year, so we can restore these investments in critical defense and non-defense programs, and so we can allow the Appropriations Committees to do their work without waiting for another crisis.

And if my Republican colleagues have any other ideas for how we get this done—my door is open—and I am ready to get to work.

Thank you M. President—I yield the floor.