View From the Capitol – Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s Newsletter for the Week of March 11-15, 2013
This week, I joined my colleagues on the U.S. House Budget Committee in unveiling a responsible Fiscal Year 2014 budget that promotes economic growth while reducing wasteful spending.
Our country is more than $16 trillion in debt. In crafting this 2014 budget we set out to rein-in out-of-control spending that is hindering the efforts of businesses to grow the economy and is piling up huge amounts of debt that will have to be paid by our children and grandchildren.
This budget also restores funding for our national defense at pre-sequester levels. One of the most important Constitutional requirements of the federal government is to provide for the common defense. The President’s sequester, which I opposed since it was first introduced, drastically slashes our national defense and puts our country at risk. We reverse this and make sure our men and women in uniform have all the resources they need to keep us safe.
Our budget reduces the annual rate of growth in spending from 5 percent, which is the current trajectory, to 3.4 percent each year over the next decade. This budget cuts wasteful spending while protecting the most vulnerable among us, getting us to a balanced budget in ten years. It provides economic security for workers and parents as well as ensuring a secure retirement for the elderly. In short, it balances the budget in 10 years, jumpstarts the economy, and preserves the American Dream for future generations.
On another matter, I was joined by several Congressional colleagues in sending a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael P. Huerta, asking them to explain the decision to implement the budget sequestration by closing air traffic towers in Columbia and other airports across the country. Included in the 238 control towers are 189 towers that are part of the Contact Tower Program – a cost-effective program for taxpayers.
The letter points to a 2011 report by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General showing contract towers cost on average $537,000 a year to operate, compared with $2 million for comparably busy FAA-staffed towers. Given the cost-effectiveness of contract towers, these cuts make little sense from a budget perspective.
From safety and cost perspectives, there is no logic in the FAA disproportionately targeting the contract tower program. The unnecessary closings will cause job losses in Columbia and about 150 other airports across the country. I also question the reasoning in cutting 75 percent from the Contract Tower fund when sequestration only requires a 5 percent reduction.
If the Columbia tower closes, pilots flying into and out of Columbia Regional Airport would have to communicate with air traffic controllers in Springfield and Kansas City. There are concerns this could cause safety problems. Cutting air traffic control towers is unnecessary. There is plenty of waste that can be trimmed by administrators implementing the budget sequester and there is absolutely no need to put travelers at risk and workers on unemployment because of the Obama Administration’s poor choices on where to cut.
There is one final note I wish to share with you this week. I was pleased to learn that Sioux Chief Manufacturing of Peculiar has won a preliminary injunction in the Western District Court of Missouri over the government health care law's requirement that the company provide coverage for abortifacient drugs, contraceptive and reproductive services. I agree with Sioux Chief's President Joseph Ismert who believes this decision is a victory for religious freedom, his company, and its employees. I applaud Sioux Chief for fighting back against an unConstitutional mandate and pray the injunction, if challenged by the Obama Administration, will be upheld. The government must never be allowed to infringe on our religious freedoms.
Have a good week.