July 25, 2012
Statement of Senator Harkin (D-IA) At the Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee Hearing:
“The Impact of Sequestration on Education”
*As Prepared for Delivery*
“The Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies will now come to order.
“As everyone here is aware, under the Budget Control Act, virtually all federal programs face an across-the-board cut in January 2013 if Congress does not enact a plan before then to reduce the national debt by $1.2 trillion.
“So far, we’ve heard a great deal about sequestration’s effects on Pentagon spending. The defense industry has highlighted the potential impact of an across-the-board cut on defense-related jobs and services. Some members of Congress are now demanding that we exempt the Pentagon from sequestration, either by finding offsets for the defense cuts only or by making nondefense programs bear the full brunt of the entire $1.2 trillion in cuts.
“But sequestration wouldn’t apply only to defense. It would also have destructive impacts on the whole array of programs that undergird the middle class in this country – everything from education to job training, medical research, child care, food safety, national parks, border security and safe air travel. These essential government services and programs directly touch every family in America, and they will be subject to deep, arbitrary cuts under sequestration.
“Some members of Congress warn that defense contracting firms will lay off employees if sequestration goes into effect. They say nothing of the tens of thousands of teachers, police officers and other public servants in communities all across America who would also lose their jobs. A laid-off teacher is just as unemployed as a laid-off defense contractor.
“So it’s important that we have an accurate assessment of the potential impact of sequestration on the nondefense side of the budget. To that end, this morning, I am releasing a report that provides a detailed analysis of sequestration’s effects on dozens of education, health, labor, and related programs under the jurisdiction of this subcommittee in fiscal year 2013. Among the highlights:
- States and local communities would lose $2.7 billion in federal funding for just three critical education programs alone – Title I, special education State grants, and Head Start – that serve a combined 30.7 million children. Nationwide, these cuts would force roughly 46,000 employees to either lose their jobs or rely on cash-strapped States and localities to pick up their salaries instead.
- In health, 660,000 fewer people would be tested for HIV, 49,000 fewer women would be screened for cancer, and 212,000 fewer children would be vaccinated.
- At a time when the unemployment rate is still above 8 percent, 1.6 million fewer adults, dislocated workers and at-risk youth would receive job training, education and employment services; and the families of 80,000 fewer children would receive child care subsidies, making it harder for parents to find work.
“The report is online, and much of this information is available on a state-by-state basis. So, for example, you can click on Iowa and see that sequestration would result in about 4,700 fewer people being admitted to substance abuse treatment programs and 500 fewer veterans receiving job assistance.
“I urge people to go to my personal office website and view the report. Once you have read it, you will better understand why my Democratic colleagues and I adamantly oppose any unbalanced approach that protects the Pentagon and the wealthiest 2 percent in our society while ignoring cuts to nondefense services, including education, that are so critical to the middle class.
“A better, fairer solution is needed. It’s the same way we solved our previous budget crises in 1982, 1984, 1990, 1993 – with a balanced approach that includes both spending reductions and new revenue. In the five years following the 1993 deficit-reduction law, the U.S. economy created over 15 million new jobs; not only did we balance the budget, we were on course to completely eliminate the national debt within a decade. We can repeat this success. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
“I hope this report, and today’s hearing, will motivate members of both parties to embrace a spirit of compromise. The time for ideological posturing is past. We all agree that sequestration would be tremendously destructive. We all want to avoid it. That means we all must come together with good will to hammer out a balanced agreement that will not only prevent sequestration, but reduce our deficit and protect America’s families.”