House Speaker John Boehner issued this statement Friday on sequestration:
“For 16 months, President Obama and his party in the Senate knew that unless they acted, the president’s sequester would go into effect on March 1st. Still, despite the House doing its part on two separate occasions over 10 months, Democrats have yet to pass a plan of their own.
“So to my dismay, the sequester – a series of mandatory spending cuts proposed during by the White House during the debt ceiling talks of 2011 – went into place as scheduled. And it will be here to stay until the President and the Democratic-controlled Senate decide to join us in focusing on more responsible spending cuts to replace it.
“This is not the outcome that Republicans wanted. As I’ve stated in this column previously, the sequester is a big deal. Not because how much money it cuts, but because of how it cuts – particularly our military and national security.
“But Washington Democrats have yet to get serious about working with us to replace the president’s sequester with cuts that confront our government’s spending binge that’s draining the economy and threatening our children and grandchildren. Their ‘solution’ to date? Campaign-style events with Head Start kids, air traffic controllers and military men and women as props to press for additional tax hikes on all Americans.
“I’m sure you’ve seen some of the claims. Many in the administration appear to be over-reaching, including U.S Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who spent much of the week on a media blitz predicting mass furloughs at FAA, grounded flights, and long security waits at airports.
“‘The people who will really be affected are the people who will be flying in and out of Ohio and in and out of cities like Columbus,’ LaHood told WBNS-TV Columbus.
“But thanks to the good oversight work of Congressional Republicans, we know that the FAA could be cutting waste and reducing spending in other areas.
“In an op-ed in the Washington Times earlier this week, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Senator John Thune (R-SD) wrote ‘The FAA claims it would have to implement furloughs of the vast majority of its 47,000 employees to meet sequestration’s mandatory costs savings. However, there are $2.7 billion in non-personnel costs that should be examined before staff furloughs.
“‘Examples include $500 million spent on consultants and $200 million in supplies and travel. The agency also has 46 aircraft that cost $143 million to operate. Additionally, officials have the authority and flexibility in their budget to use savings found in these areas to pay for air-traffic controllers and other critical personnel to avoid furloughs.’
“The White House may not want to admit it, but the American people know that government has a serious spending problem. They also know that if the president gets more tax hikes – he already got tax hikes through ObamaCare and the fiscal cliff – he will just spend it.
“Recently I received a note from a former infantry officer who served in Iraq. Out of respect for his privacy I’ll refer to him by his first name, Cullen.
“Cullen is concerned about the White House’s demands for additional revenue, and wants meaningful reforms to tackle our debt crisis. ‘As a veteran I would rather not see defense cut [through sequestration] so drastically… but I refuse to see our country spent into destruction,’ he writes.
“‘The reason I care,’ he goes on to say, ‘I became a father eight months ago to a baby girl and she deserves the same America that we had.’
“That’s what this fight is all about. And that’s why the sequester should remain until it can be replaced with more responsible cuts to help put America on a path to a balanced budget, and a brighter future.”
Boehner represents Ohio’s 8th District, which includes all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami, and Preble counties, and the southernmost part of Mercer County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.