Langevin Statement on Air Traffic Controller Bill

Apr 26, 2013 Issues: Budget, Vote

Congressman Langevin (D-RI) submitted the following statement for the record after voting in favor of H.R. 1765, a bill to provide the Secretary of Transportation with the flexibility to transfer certain funds to prevent reduced operations and staffing of the Federal Aviation Administration:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my deep disappointment that Congress has wasted yet another opportunity to be rid of sequestration for FY13. The most important action we can take to provide for the long term health of our nation is getting people back to work, and ensuring that those who are employed, stay employed. This cannot happen with sequestration in force, yet House Republicans continue to risk our delicate economic recovery by allowing this disastrous policy to continue. Since April of 2011, we have cut $2.4 trillion from the budget over the next ten years – with nearly three dollars in spending cuts for every dollar of revenue.

In February, Democrats introduced legislation, which I cosponsored, to avert sequestration in a balanced way, through closing tax loopholes and targeted spending cuts. Ever since, Democrats have tried to bring this proposal up for a vote, with Republican leadership blocking every attempt.

Every day, I hear stories from Rhode Islanders about the effects of sequestration on their lives and livelihoods. Some consequences, like flight delays, are more visible than others. But the impacts are just as real, and often much more devastating, for the laid-off workers whose extended unemployment insurance has been reduced, for our kids who won’t get a spot in Head Start, for the low-income families who may lose their housing vouchers, for the seniors who won’t be receiving Meals on Wheels, and for our teachers who may lose their jobs.   Piecemeal legislation – and playing favorites – is not the answer.  We cannot simply react to the loudest voices or the most well connected; sequestration is damaging to every segment of our community.

I am heartened to see that after months of denying the consequences of sequestration, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have finally woken up to the real, damaging effects to our constituents and to our economy.  But we seek public office to represent the interests of all of our constituents, and to give a voice to those who can’t always speak for themselves.  We cannot afford any more carve-outs -- there are too many in our communities whose problems are just as great, but whose voices don't carry as far. I urge my Republican colleagues to join us in finding a comprehensive solution to sequestration so that all of those who are suffering under this policy will know they have been heard.