(House of Representatives - February 14, 2013)

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[Pages H508-H509]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                     DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Washington (Mr. Kilmer) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. KILMER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today with sincere appreciation for 
the opportunity I have to represent my region in our Nation's Capital. 
Throughout the past year, whether it was in Gray's Harbor or Port 
Angeles, Bremerton, or Tacoma, what I heard from folks around my region 
is they want solutions to our problems. People want to get back to 
work. They want to start new businesses. They want to explore new 
frontiers of science and technology. They want to help build our 
Nation's bridges and roads. They want to refurbish our schools and 
buildings. I'm passionate about these issues, and I'm committed to 
working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisles to find new 
ways to move this economy forward.
  Over the past 6 weeks, I've had the opportunity to meet with 
constituents to talk about their top concerns. And whether it's back in 
Washington State, or visits with folks who've traveled 3,000 miles to 
our Nation's capital, the number one thing that I hear about is the 
reckless and devastating impact that impending across-the-board cuts 
would have on our families and on our communities.
  I've heard from educators and administrators that they face dramatic 
cuts that would lead to ballooning class sizes and significant cuts to 
financial aid.
  I've heard from parents who are afraid for their kids who have 
autism, fearful that their kids won't be able to get the services that 
they rely on.
  I've heard from tribal leaders who say that these cuts will scale 
back community policing on our reservations and jeopardize patient 
access to the Indian Health Service.
  And as someone who has spent the last decade working in economic 
development, I've heard from small business owners who say that all of 
this uncertainty is making them hesitant to hire new workers and expand 
their production lines. Virtually every meeting that I have had has 
detailed how reckless and wrong-headed these across-the-board cuts 
would be.
  Yesterday, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, 
Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter pointed out that these cuts 
aren't happening because we've

[[Page H509]]

thought about them strategically. They're not happening because we've 
identified wasteful spending. They're not happening because we've 
discovered some new technology that makes it cheaper to keep our Nation 
safe. They're only happening because they are, as he put it, ``the 
collateral damage of political gridlock.''
  We've already seen the effects of these looming cuts in Washington 
State. The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the largest employer in my 
district, had to postpone its career fair because of all of this budget 
uncertainty. This is a no brainer--we have the work and we have the 
workers, but they can't hire because Congress hasn't done its job. 
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard needs to be able to actively recruit and 
hire workers. Our local economy needs it, and our national security 
depends on it. And yet, here we are.
  Later today, we will be focusing on legislation that doesn't solve 
this problem, isn't going to pass the Senate, and isn't going to become 
law. And after we finish legislative business tomorrow, we're all being 
sent home for a week. This leaves us with just 4 legislative days for 
us to act before these across-the-board cuts go into effect.
  We were elected to this body to help people. Stopping these damaging, 
nonstrategic, across-the-board cuts to avoid undermining our economy 
should be our top priority. We should be working day and night until we 
have a solution. By doing nothing, we risk putting our fragile economy 
back into a recession. By doing nothing, we refuse the commitments 
we've made. We're cutting education, kicking kids off Head Start, 
hurting small businesses, and gutting research and innovation--the 
foundations of our long-term economic growth.
  By doing nothing, we hurt the men and women who spend their days 
protecting our Nation and providing essential services to the American 
people. And by doing nothing, Congress is spending the wrong message to 
the American people.
  Mr. Speaker, we need to get America back to work. And, Mr. Speaker, 
we need to get Congress working again, too. Doing nothing is not an 
option. Let's put an end to these gimmicks, and let's stop kicking the 
can down the road. Let's stop these series of self-imposed crises that 
fissure the trust and predictability that the private sector needs.
  Let's work together to reach a balanced compromise to replace the 
across-the-board cuts with a smart, balanced approach to addressing our 
fiscal challenges and getting our economy growing again. Let's maintain 
our commitment to our Nation's most vulnerable and preserve retirement 
security for our seniors. And let's get America back to work.