View From the Capitol - Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler's Newsletter for the Week of February 18-22, 2012
The automatic spending cuts known as sequestration are just days away from being implemented, and the country received some sad news this week from the Department of Defense. It informed Congress of its intent to impose furloughs on the Defense Department's entire civilian workforce as it copes with the drastic cuts that are set to take effect March 1st.
Our military has already absorbed huge cuts, and the warning has been sounded about the impact of further reductions to our national defense. Even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of our military being "hollowed" out by any additional cuts. We are now likely to see one of the first major impacts of these across-the-board reductions if sequestration takes place. Sequestration is a result of the 2011 Super Committee’s failure to reach an agreement on how to cut America's huge national debt. I voted against the Budget Control Act which created this dangerous plan.
The House has voted twice to replace sequestration with common-sense cuts and reforms. In fact, the House Armed Services Committee has put forward another responsible alternative to sequestration. It calls for a 10 percent reduction in the federal work force over the next decade, with the cuts coming from attrition.
Civilian cuts are only the beginning of the sequestration dangers. Our men and women in uniform who have dedicated their lives to protecting this country will have to bear the brunt of some of these cuts. As a member of the House Armed Services and Budget Committees, I will continue to embrace spending reduction plans that reduce our debt without raising taxes on hardworking Americans or putting our national defense at risk.
I had the opportunity to meet with my Agriculture Advisory Council this week to discuss and share a number of important issues, including an update on the Farm Bill. The House Agriculture Committee, on which I serve, hopes to have a Farm Bill out of committee by May or June, with the full House voting on it sometime in July. I will be working hard to make sure the Farm Bill maintains strong crop insurance programs that work for producers, while repealing or consolidating programs and beginning the process of making much-needed reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to save taxpayers more than $16 billion. I welcome your input on this important bill to rural America and to food security as a nation.
This week, I had the pleasure of spending time in three of the new communities that are now part of the Fourth Congressional District, visiting with citizens in Columbia, Moberly, and Mexico.
In Columbia, I spoke to the Rotary Club, visiting about how to address our $16.4 trillion debt. It is clear that residents of the Fourth want the federal government to get the debt under control. Reining in wasteful government spending and getting our fiscal house in order is one of my top priorities in Congress.
In Moberly, I visited a local gun shop, Northern Missouri Firearms, to discuss recent proposals in Congress and to express my support for our Second Amendment rights.
Residents of Moberly are like so many good citizens throughout our district whose hearts were broken by the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, but who do not believe it is appropriate to address this tragedy with emotion-driven legislation that infringes on the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. I pledge that I will continue to do all I can to ensure our Constitutional right to bear arms is protected.
As a former school teacher, I found our visit to Mexico very special, as I read a book to a kindergarten class at Eugene Field Elementary School.
It was such a pleasure to read to these wide-eyed youngsters who are so eager to learn. The eleven years I spent as a teacher were some of the happiest times of my life - and I always enjoy visiting schools in our district to talk with the wonderful administrators, teachers, and, of course, the precious children who are being taught by the dedicated professionals I was pleased to meet this week.
Have a good week.