(House of Representatives - April 25, 2013)

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[Page H2309]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                        SEQUESTER AND THE BUDGET

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Cardenas) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. CARDENAS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the number of 
times that Congress has dropped the ball when it comes to our budget. 
But I'm also here to say that we can fix it.
  Last year, Congress passed the only law I have ever seen that was 
designed to never be enforced. It's called sequestration.
  Sequestration was actually designed to cut spending across the board 
in a way that was so offensive and so illogical that it could never 
survive as a law. It was a law that was meant to unify both sides of 
the aisle in an effort to develop a comprehensive deal to fix the 
economy and our deficit.
  A responsible Congress could have stopped those ridiculous cuts. In 
fact, I agree with Senator Mark Warner, who happens to be a former 
Governor, who had to balance his State of Virginia's budget, and I 
quote, he called this ``stupid.''
  Mr. Van Hollen, whom I work with on the Budget Committee, introduced 
commonsense legislation that would have responsibly reduced our deficit 
and ended the sequester. Unfortunately, the Republican majority refused 
to allow an up-or-down vote on this floor for that straightforward 
legislation. They doubled down on irresponsible policies based on an 
economic math that we now know is completely flawed.
  It reminded me of a story. Two guys are in a lifeboat, and the one 
holding the oars says, ``This is a bad situation, and one of us ain't 
gonna make it.'' It doesn't take a genius to figure out who the guy 
with the oars is talking about.
  All of us are in this lifeboat together, and we know where the 
majority stands. They're not rowing for the middle class. They're just 
fighting to protect millionaires and make sure their special interests 
keep their tax breaks.
  We know families, businesses, and communities continue to be hurt by 
what we do or don't do here in Washington. You've all seen it. FAA 
furloughs are causing flight delays, just one example of how we're 
continuing to hurt our economy.
  We can do better. We can write a legitimate, measured budget for this 
  Mr. Speaker, return this House to regular order. Our House has a 
budget. The Senate has a budget. Let's go to conference and start 
negotiating a real American budget. The American people deserve some 
certainty, and they certainly deserve to know what priorities are 
important to their elected representatives.
  For those watching at home, why is a conference committee so 
important? Because there are vast differences between the budgets 
currently on the table. A conference committee negotiates, in full view 
of the public, on principles and priorities that set funding for the 
next fiscal year.
  Let's talk about this like my Republican colleagues' favorite thing 
to talk about. Let's talk about it like people do at the kitchen table.
  If paychecks are cut or an unforeseen emergency happens in a family, 
families don't just pay 10 percent less on their mortgage or require 10 
percent less of the medications they depend on. Instead, we make smart 
cuts. We stop buying the things we don't need, but we don't stop 
educating our children. At least in my house, my wife and I don't 
decide what's important to us and ignore everyone else.

                              {time}  1100

  That doesn't work in families, and it doesn't work in Washington. We 
sit down like adults--at least we should in Congress--around some 
kitchen table and figure out what we can buy and what we can't. We work 
through today's needs and plan for our future. We don't stop investing 
in our families. Like Senator Warner said, that would be stupid.
  The House and the Senate need to get around the table--any table. If 
you can't find a table here in the Capitol, come to my kitchen table. 
We must create an American budget that invests in job growth and 
educating our future workforce. We can make cuts--but cuts that make 
sense. Let's root out the waste, fraud, and abuse and cut tax loopholes 
to make sure everyone pays their fair share.
  The American people have shown us what to do. Let's get around a 
table. Let's name conferees and show the people who sent us here that 
we can be responsible and keep the promise of the American Dream a 
  Ladies and gentlemen, I have been honored to be elected at the State 
legislative level in California, I have been honored to be a council 
member, and now, since January of this year, I have been a Member of 
this body. And I'm very, very disappointed. In business, at home, and 
in elected office, I've never seen a situation so stagnant, so stale 
and damaging to the people who sent us here to represent them.