On Senate Floor, Kaine Makes Case For Ending Sequestration In Budget Conference
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Speaking on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Budget Conference Committee, called for an end to sequestration and urged his committee colleagues to find a sensible solution that would reverse the across-the board-cuts. Kaine, who delivered his maiden floor speech on this issue in February, reiterated how the non-strategic cuts have had a devastating impact on national security – from grounding U.S. combat aircraft, to reducing carrier strike groups and amphibious readiness groups to decreasing our nation’s overall defense capabilities - in addition to its disproportionate effect on Virginia with more than 70,000 civilian employees from the Commonwealth having faced furloughs over the summer.
“I return to it [sequestration] today not just to be repetitive, but because we’re finally at the table in a budget conference,” said Kaine. “I think this conference gives us an excellent opportunity to find a better path forward for the nation. … And if sequester continues into 2014, 34 planned ship maintenance availabilities will be canceled in the new year. … This will hurt the ship repair industry in Hampton Roads and could lead to a loss of about 8,000 jobs nationally in the ship repair industry.”
Regarding the direct impact of sequestration on our military readiness, Kaine noted that nearly 50 percent of America’s combat aircraft could be grounded in 2014 as a result of continued sequester cuts.
“We have to ask ourselves, how can we not have an Air Force ready to respond to crises at a moment’s notice?” Kaine said. “It’s not hard to see what was promised about sequestration is in fact true: sequestration is not strategic…it’s not sustainable.”
Kaine also applauded the 29 conferees for “not putting a lot of nonnegotiable language on the table” during their first meeting last week. “I hope that attitude continues because we need colleagues from both sides of the aisle, and both the House and Senate, to work toward a positive solution in this conference that will do a number of things – help us grow the economy, help us deal with the debt in a responsible way…and lift the effects of sequestration so that we can be confident that we will be safe as a nation.”
In closing, Kaine expressed confidence that a compromise could be reached to replace sequestration in a smart and targeted way.
“If we reverse sequestration in this budget conference, that will create – by economists’ estimates – 900,000 jobs at a time when our economy needs to get stronger and our unemployment rate needs to be dropped,” said Kaine.
The next meeting of the Budget Conference Committee will take place on November 13.