Reply from Senator Kaine

(This is in reply to a Letter to My Representatives in Congress.)

Dear Reverend Millard:

Thank you for contacting me about our nation’s fiscal challenges and the sequestration cuts that went into effect March 1.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Our country faces an immense challenge and responsibility to address our country’s unsustainable long-term fiscal position.  We cannot continue to kick the can down the road with short-term solutions.  Neither should we continue “crisis-budgeting” — waiting until a crisis hits to spur legislative action on fiscal policy.

Sequestration — broad, misguided, and across-the-board spending cuts — will reduce federal spending by $85 billion in 2013 alone, ultimately reaching $1.2 trillion in cuts by 2021.  Allowing sequestration to continue is bad policy, bad budgeting and bad governance.  Sequestration will continue to harm our still fragile economy, just as we begin to emerge from a difficult recession and respond to unacceptably high unemployment.  Sequestration is also having a devastating impact on the defense industry, and on many other important priorities, from education and health care to law enforcement.

I strongly disagree with those who think inaction is a responsible policy. The economic uncertainty of sequestration started to negatively affect the economy months before it occurred, and people are feeling the effects in their communities right now. In Virginia alone, up to 90,000 Virginians are at risk of being furloughed.  Businesses and contractors are delaying, or even cancelling, hiring decisions and critical investments in research.  These furloughs and layoffs will have a ripple effect throughout the local economy, on shopkeepers and merchants in those areas.

The job losses alone will have an overwhelming impact in Virginia, especially on those in uniform who protect our nation and the civilians who are critical to our nation’s security.  Virginia is as connected to the military and federal government as any other state in the country.  Active duty personnel, Guard and Reserve members, veterans, civilian federal employees, defense contractors, and military families represent a significant segment of the Commonwealth.  We have a responsibility to protect these heroes and should not break faith with them in a time of economic challenges.

On February 28, 2013, the Senate debated legislation on sequestration.  I voted in favor of a bill to replace the first year of the sequester with a mix of targeted spending cuts and revenue.  This is the balanced approach I believe is a credible solution to this problem.  However, that bill did not pass the Senate and the issue of sequester is still unresolved.

The House and Senate passed an appropriations bill in late March that funds the government through the end of the fiscal year.  President Obama signed this bill into law on March 26.  This is a responsible decision that avoids a government shutdown and shows the resolve of the Senate to embrace an orderly budget process and stop governing by crisis.  This bill allows Virginia shipyards to resume delayed construction projects and repairs to facilities and ships, such as the USS Roosevelt and the USS Lincoln.  It also reinstates tuition assistance for servicemembers that was put in jeopardy by the sequester.

We still have time to replace the sequester.  On March 23, the Senate approved a budget for FY 2014 on a vote of 50-49.  I supported this budget, which is a balanced proposal that will bolster our economic recovery and boost job creation while seriously tackling our deficit and debt in a credible way.  The Senate budget, which calls for the replacement of the sequester, mixes smart and responsible spending cuts with new revenues from closing loopholes and wasteful spending in the tax code.

Congress and the Administration should stay at the table and find a compromise solution.  I will do all I can to replace sequestration, and to push for a normal budgeting process and a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction plan.

Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue.

Sincerely,

Tim Kaine

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1 Comment »

  1. […] [Note: you can read Senator Kaine’s response here.] […]

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