Sequestration 2013: Lawmakers, activists call for end of sequestration
Updated: March 15, 2013 - 10:50 am
On Capitol Hill Friday, the back and forth battle over budgets and sequestration raged on. Both sides say they're unhappy with looming cuts to defense spending and entitlement programs.
Some lawmakers are calling for the end of the sequestration all together.
With support from more than 60 progressive organizations across the country, like the AFL-CIO and moveon.org. Activists say they've collected the signatures of hundreds of thousands Americans calling on Congress to stop the sequester.
Leading the effort in Congress is Representative John Conyers, who has introduced a one-sentence bill that would do just that.
Conyers, (D)-Michigan, said "The debt is not endangering us a bit."
Progressive lawmakers and activists say they've delivered 300,000 signatures to House Speaker John Boehner, demanding an end to the sequester cuts.
Rep. Alan Grayson, (D)-Florida, added, "If we simply let the economy heal itself, everything will be fine. We're not Greece. Our interest rates are not 25 percent. We're not Spain. We don't have 25 percent unemployment."
Texas representative Sheila Jackson Lee even made several comparisons between sequestration and the 2011 Japanese tsunami, saying lives will be lost without healthcare and education programs.
"People who are sick are dependent upon the NIH. And in the sequester right now as the tsunami approaches us, over 1 billion dollar,s almost 2 billion dollars, will stop the NIH in its tracks. It is reckless for us just to say we're doing fine," Jackson Lee said.
But Republicans take a different approach.
"I'm in favor of reducing our budgets in thoughtful ways. But not in ways that shoulders all the burden on the backs of those men and women who serve this nation," said Representative Rob Whitman, (R)-Virginia.
Meanwhile, the rest of Washington seems to have turned its attention from short-term sequestration to long-term budget debates.
President Barack Obama continued his Capitol Hill charm offensive.
But Republicans say there are still big differences.
Boehner said, "And the president's idea of compromise is just do it my way. That's just not gonna work."
Still, political observers believe the finger-pointing over the sequester will soon come roaring back.
"I mean April 1, April 10, that's the period when these furloughs start to kick in and when a lot of these services start to come into focus that will no longer be there," explained Darren Samuelsohn, a senior policy reporter at Politico.
Both sides acknowledge, for now, the challenge is that most Americans seem unaware, unclear or unconvinced that the sequester will impact them.
But lawmakers representing military communities and federal workers are already getting an earful, and some believe it's only matter of weeks before the rest of the country feels the impact too.
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