From the office of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski:
U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) issued a statement on Senate passage of a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through April 8, 2011.
“Senate Democrats have initiated cuts,” Senator Mikulski said. “I am for cuts to programs that middle-class families don’t depend on for their survival. The biggest cut I want to make is to the unemployment rate.”
Senator Mikulski’s statement is full follows:
“I reluctantly support another short-term CR because I am absolutely against a government shutdown.
“But enough is enough. We are six months into the fiscal year and no closer to having a budget than the day we started. The American people want a budget that is frugal, on their side and that brings stability to their lives. Both parties must come together and agree to sensible budget cuts for the remainder of this year and then tackle the items that are responsible for adding to our deficit.
“We cannot continue a cycle of cutting $2 billion every two weeks. That’s no way to govern. Even though many of the cuts in the new CR are cuts that I agree with, short-term CRs are a government shutdown by proxy. I don’t want a government shutdown. I’m fighting to prevent it. But we cannot fund the government with two- to three-week payments. It is bad for federal workers, contractors, families and the economy.
“Senate Democrats have initiated cuts. First we cut $41 billion from the President’s budget request. Then we offered to cut another $10 billion, for a total of $51 billion in cuts. But our offer was rejected. Republicans want to cut $100 billion. We met them halfway. But that wasn’t good enough. Whether we cut $100 billion at once or several billion at a time in short term CRs, this is not a strategy to reduce the deficit and will hurt middle-class families.
“I am for cuts. The biggest cut I want to make is to the unemployment rate. Last week, I voted for Chairman Inouye’s package with $51 billion in cuts. And in my own CJS bill, I’ve agreed to cut agency overhead by 10 percent, and cut agency party funds by 25 percent. I’m for making cuts to programs that middle-class families don’t depend on for their survival. Let’s end lavish subsidies for oil and gas companies to save $5 billion each year before we cut Head Start and Child Care by $1 billion. Let’s stop the tax breaks for corporations that send jobs overseas to save $5 billion before we cut afterschool programs by $100 million. Let’s stop subsidizing big agribusiness to save another $5 billion before we cut Pell Grants for middle-class kids by more than $600. And let’s end the war, which costs $1.1 billion a week in Iraq and $2.5 billion a week in Afghanistan, and bring our troops home before we ask our military men and women and their families to sacrifice any more for our country.
“The uncertainty of these short-term CRs is bad for workers and contractors. One hundred and thirty thousand federal employees and thousands more contractors live and work in Maryland. These are some of the most dedicated, hardworking people in our nation. They make sure the food we eat is safe, find cures for the most devastating diseases, and make sure seniors get their checks every month. At Goddard Space Flight Center in Prince George’s County there are 9,100 employees—3,400 civil servants and 5,700 contractors leading the world in green-science initiatives. Of these 9,100 workers, 65 percent are scientists, engineers and technicians taking us into the next century with research on the Earth and its climate, and leading missions to learn about the sun, moon, Mercury and Saturn.
“Maryland’s federal employees win Nobel Prizes. Dr. Bill Phillips of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg shared the 1997 Physics Nobel Prize for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light, making it possible for us to study atoms with unprecedented precision. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu was one of his co-winners. Dr. Martin Rodbell of NIH shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of G-proteins and the principles of signal transduction in cellular communication. Dr. John C. Mather of NASA Goddard shared the 2006 Nobel in Physics for a discovery that has enabled precise measurements of the first moments of the universe.
“Whether they have won a Nobel Prize or provide the petri dishes or support services for this important work, these are hard-working federal employees and contractors who are duty and mission driven. “In Prince George’s County, I heard from a small business owner who does contract business with the government. Over the years she has grown her business with help from the Small Business Administration. Her company graduated from the SBA’s 8(a) business development program, which was created to help small and disadvantaged companies compete. By taking advantage of the resources offered like mentoring, business counseling, training, financial assistance and technical assistance she grew to a $43 million business based in Maryland with divisions in other states. She’s a success story. She asked me, “What should we do if the government shuts down?” She’s afraid that the gains she’s made could all be lost in a shutdown. At a time when we are seeing signs of economic recovery Congress should be nurturing this trend with predictable, stable funding for small business owners, not destroying it.
“Mr. President, I support federal employees and contractors. I support the mission of our government agencies and I support providing the money needed to carry out their mandates. But I don’t support a government shutdown.
“I support cuts. But cuts are not a strategy to reduce the deficit. Cuts are a tool, but they are not the only tool. We need a more thoughtful approach. We need a real strategy.
“I will vote for today’s CR, but we cannot continue to pass short-term spending bills. Both sides must come to agree on a long-term budget for remainder of fiscal year.”