Weekly Update from Rep. Denham - February 22, 2013
I’m pleased to hear the President’s ideas for improving our infrastructure system while also increasing efficiency and economic competitiveness. We’ve already begun to see job expansion in the Valley as California’s premier logistics hub, and we need to make sure we are investing in and improving California’s long-term infrastructure needs to meet these growing demands. I also agree with the President on the need to cut through red tape and streamline existing regulations, procedures and policies in order to get shovels in the ground more quickly to expedite project delivery.
We must also continue to look for more cost-effective and innovative approaches to passenger and freight rail service. As Chairman of the Rail Subcommittee, a big focus of mine will be on improving our rail systems, such as the ACE train, to increase frequency and offer quicker commutes so working families can spend less time traveling and more time together. I look forward to working with the President on his proposals and other long-term solutions to our substantial infrastructure needs.
We have a rare opportunity to work together in the House and Senate to enact comprehensive immigration reform this Congress. A bipartisan solution must include a Valley perspective. Here in California we have a distinct need for a secure labor force. We must have a temporary worker program, and most importantly we need a workable system to verify those that are here and where those jobs are to make sure we are actually getting people back to work. Our entire community -- our Ag economy, our schools and our hospitals -- are going to depend upon getting immigration reform right. I look forward to working with the President and Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate to fix the immigration system for good.
On March 1, 2013 across-the-board spending cuts, totaling $85.3 billion this year and $1.2 trillion over 10 years, are scheduled to hit through a process known as sequester. This occurred because our government has failed to reach an agreement on managing the national debt. To be clear, the House has twice acted on a bipartisan basis to replace the cuts of sequester with common sense spending reductions and reforms, thereby achieving the budget savings without harming all federal programs. Unfortunately, it’s now up to the Senate to come the table with their ideas on a reasonable and responsible alternative to replace sequester from taking place next Friday.
The sequester cuts will come from both domestic and defense spending, however many safety-net programs such as Medicaid, Social Security and nutrition assistance will be exempt. Likewise, Medicare beneficiaries will not be harmed. It is important to note that while defense spending makes up only 19 percent of the federal budget, it will account for 50 percent of the deficit reductions in the sequestration. Border security, law enforcement, aviation safety and many other programs would all have diminished resources. There is widespread and bipartisan agreement that these cuts would have a severe impact on America’s national security and further harm the economy.
In addition to passing legislation to avoid sequester, the House has voted to prevent the massive tax hike and laid the groundwork for pro-growth tax reform that would help reignite the American economy. Unfortunately, despite receiving support from Republicans and Democrats, neither of these measures have been voted on by the Senate. Even more disappointing is the insistence of the President that any solution to sequester involve hundreds of billions in tax increases. An additional tax increase, so soon after the $600 billion in tax hikes the President demanded be included in fiscal cliff agreement would be unacceptable.
Both parties have a responsibility to find a bipartisan solution to the sequester. We may not agree 100% of the time on how best to reduce our nation’s annual deficit and over $16 trillion debt, but we can do better for the American people. Our priorities must remain focused on growing the economy, expanding opportunity and prosperity and ensuring America maintains its leading role in the world with a strong national defense. We can’t keep avoiding the inevitable; we can do this without raising taxes or letting the president’s sequester go into effect.
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Have a great weekend!
U.S. Representative Jeff Denham