Sen. Mikulski: Sequester Would Slash Funding to Local Law Enforcement; 100 Fewer Cops and 4,300 Fewer Bullet Proof Vests in Maryland

From the office of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski:

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the full Senate Appropriations Committee as well as the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, today spoke on the Senate floor on the devastating impacts of sequester on community safety, security and jobs. Chairwoman Mikulski was joined in making remarks by Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Interior Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

“You know what sequester will mean? Across-the-board cuts. It will have a direct impact on America’s prisons. Oh, sure, the prisoners will still have their food. They’ll still have their hour to be able to do their exercise. But the prison guards will face furloughs, layoffs and even reductions in the workforce. We’re placing them at risk while they protect us from risk,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. “I want to cancel the sequester and come up with a balanced solution of revenues and strategic targeted cuts, not across-the-board cuts to 1,300 correctional guards that might face layoffs. We need to be able to have the right law enforcement at federal and state levels to catch the bad guys, whether it’s white-collar crime, like mortgage fraud, or street crime, or despicable things like trafficking women and children.”

Earlier this month, Chairwoman Mikulski convened a hearing of the full Appropriations Committee on the impacts of sequestration. A webcast of the hearing is available here. The Senator also requested impact statements from federal agencies preparing for the devastating impacts of sequester. Those letters are available here.

Senator Mikulski’s remarks on the Senate floor, as delivered, follow:

“Today I come to the floor to speak on the impact of sequester on the American people, on their safety, their security, on our economy, and on the way local and state governments can wisely use resources and protect their people.

“I come today not only as the chair of the entire Appropriations Committee but as the chair of the subcommittee that funds the Commerce Department, the Justice Department, and the majority of our science agencies.

“And I wanted to talk about the impact, really, on public safety and our future. But you have to know I come with a heavy heart. I note and bring to the attention of my colleagues that a guard was killed at a federal prison on Monday. This guard worked at the federal penitentiary in Canaan, Pennsylvania. He was stabbed and attacked by a prisoner with homemade weapons. The entire Justice Department, the Office of Prisons, the union people that represent him, we all mourn for Mr. Eric Williams’ death. We don’t know the full extent — and I will be asking for a report on the investigation on how this happened.

“But one of the things I do know as the chair of the Committee, we face prison overcrowding. We have federal prisons, some we don’t even open because we refuse to put the money in. And you can say, ‘Well, Senator Barb, you’re on the Committee. Why don’t you put the money in?’ Well, we’re in gridlock…deadlock…hammerlock. We’re not able to move our bills under regular order, with due diligence and oversight. That’s why we’re in this crisis of sequester.

“Can’t we just cut two percent just like American families? American families don’t run prisons. They don’t build their own roads. They don’t have to put out their own local police department. They depend on their government to do that. They’re willing to expend revenue, pay taxes, so that they are protected. There are reasons people are in federal prisons. They were bad guys and gals who did bad things. And when they’re in prison, they’re still going to do bad things, like attack a prison guard.

“You know what sequester will mean? Across-the-board cuts. It will have a direct impact on America’s prisons. Oh, sure, the prisoners will still have their food. They’ll still have their hour to be able to do their exercise. But the prison guards will face furloughs, layoffs and even reductions in the workforce. We’re placing them at risk while they protect us from risk.

“Where are our national priorities? One of the ways that we can honor this man is to get serious about our appropriations process. I want to cancel the sequester and come up with a balanced solution of revenues and strategic targeted cuts, not across-the-board cuts to 1,300 correctional guards that might face layoffs. And I want to also be aware that there are federal prosecutors. We in Maryland have some of the best U.S. Attorneys going after violent gangs, drug cartels, child predators, mortgage fraud. But we’re going to say to those smart lawyers that could make megabucks in law firms, ‘Oh, stick with us. But when you do, you could be laid off and furloughed.’ Why is it that the criminals are able to hire lawyers but the federal government doesn’t want to pay for them?

“We need to be able to have the right law enforcement at federal and state levels to catch the bad guys, whether it’s white-collar crime, like mortgage fraud, or street crime, or despicable things like trafficking women and children. We have to look out for the FBI, our major force in counterterrorism. They again face layoffs. Sequester will go to our local law enforcement. We will be cutting things like the Byrne Grants, which enable local law enforcement to put cops on the beat and buy equipment that they need to protect themselves. There is a program here that we have as a line-item. It’s not the biggest thing in the federal budget but it’s the biggest thing to cops. Why? Because it buys bullet-proof vests.

“I could talk another 55 minutes. I could talk another 505 minutes. But I want everyone to get the point that cuts have consequences. So platitudes like ‘Why don’t we cut the budget like families do? Let’s do what families do.’ Families, first of all, make plans and stick to them.

“I think it’s time we have a regular order. I want to deal with this sequester now. I want to look at this thing called the Continuing Resolution so we resolve the funding for fiscal year 2013, for fiscal year 2014, to work on a bipartisan basis across the aisle and across the dome. Let’s look at our spending, how we protect the American people and make public investments that help create jobs today and jobs tomorrow. In conclusion, before I turn to my most able subcommittee chair on Homeland Security, Senator Landrieu, I just want to say to the family of officer Eric Williams, the entire Senate wishes to express its condolences to the family.

“And I believe the way we show our deepest sympathy, is to make sure it doesn’t happen in our federal prisons again. Let’s get on and solve the problem of sequester. Let’s work together and get the job done.”


  1. Duganz says

    So, this ‘sequester’ will furlough people out of their jobs, while Congress and the Senate still receive full pay and benefits. If we are so short on money and can’t afford government programs, why are our representatives thinking of giving 100,000+ of our tax dollars to KOHL’S to update their Edgewood fulfillment center? If we don’t have the money for local government employees to continue to work, we certainly don’t have the money to spend on a private corporation who should spend their own money on building improvements. So, ‘my representative’, please explain this.,0,3197394.story?page=1

    • B says

      There is plenty of money to pay federal employees, however, they are all being used as pawns by a President so stuck in his ideology that he is willing to hurt people financially, so that he doesn’t have to give in and make the much needed sensible cuts.

        • pizzle says

          I’ve read some of your posts in other threads and I must say that you not only appear to be a know-it-all, but you’re also very condescending. Whoever snatched you up is one lucky guy/gal,
          for sure.

          So, since this is ALL the fault of Congress, how far should we look into the past to see when this dysfunction began? I think having an annual budget would have gone a long way towards helping to curb the “devastating” effects of the sequestration. Congress indeed has the power to tax and spend. How about responsible budgeting? When was the last time Congress had a budget from which to work?

          Because the President is apparently free from any blame in this matter, why is it that he feels the need to spout off the same talking points over and over and over again as he continues his campaign-like behavior, in an effort to stay the “darling” of the American people? Whose idea was this, anyway?

      • Kharn says

        Also notice it is the USDA inspectors, ATC and other groups that directly influence everyday lives that are being furloughed first. When chicken, beef, eggs, etc are not available on Mondays due to the USDA inspectors being off on Friday, people will be mad and demand action.

        • Jaguar Judy says

          Let’s furlough all management and supervision on Friday and let the workers get their work done. That would be a win/win situation.

  2. Marc Eaton says

    Babs, you and your tool of a president must be reading off the same teleprompter. Maybe the golfer and chief should have spent the money from his trip to play with Tiger to pay off some of the bills he has rung up. All of you in Washington are worthless, on both sides of the isle.

    • CDEV says

      Stop acting like only one party has “talking points.” Clearly both parties do, although the GOP seems to not be doing a good job at circulating them or vetting them at this moment. Last week the GOP was all talking about the made up Friends of Hamas! Partisan rhetoric, especially dishonest rhetoric does not play well with independents. Both parties made this bed. If they want this to happen then we will see tomorrow what the executive decides to cut. If not work it out and stop kicking the can down the road!

  3. Localguy says

    According to Campaign Constitution:

    “In 2000 each congressman was entitled to fourteen staff persons and each senator was entitled to thirty-four staff persons.”

    535 in the House = 7490
    100 in Senate = 3400

    My old fashioned math tells me that is 10,890 people help Congress do nothing or little on it more productive days. So Babs, it’s not just that I have to cut my own spending and watch my wallet… and it has nothing to do with paving roads or maintaining a police force. You need more guards? Fine, re-assign some of your staff! Afterall, if it is such a dire situation you will jump at the chance! [Actually Babs, I don’t expect you to do anything like this… that would require sacrifice and a sense of obligation to the people you serve… can’t have that.] Remember folks; we have a government of the special interests, for the special interests and by the special interests.

    • noble says

      Having worked and held meetings with many of them, I have to tell you that the vast majority of the Congressional staff are NOT the problem. They are practically the only people doing any real work on the Hill. Don’t drag them into it.

      • Localguy says

        Okay… since the vast majority of them are vital – how about that minority of them that don’t fit the bill be re-assigned? If everyone in Congress can identify just 2 staffers that are not key people, we’d have almost enough prison guards to lessen the effects that Babs is so flustered about.

        By the way, I did not say they didn’t need staffs – just less. You know, make cuts like the people they are threatening. When they don’t cut their staffs but are willing to cut prison guards or teachers or the like – well, it tells me where their priorities are located. And on top of that – if they led by example – you know, like submit themselves to Obamacare and cut even just one staffer position; it would go much farther to demonstrating they actually understand the situation. Since their habits are to protect themselves and the people closest to them, well, I just think it is time for them to go… they are royalists of the highest order, completely disconnected from the people they lord over.

        Yeah, I’m reading some of those founding era documents about tyrannical and distant governments… it resonates well in our current situation.

        • CDEV says

          See but that is the flaw here. Every congressman should not need to cut 2 people. It is how they are utilized. My issue is some are doing campaigning and realeasing press releases designed for campaigns. The person should be limited to doing tasks essential for the congressman’s job. Not other crap!

          • Localguy says

            Are you suggesting that if a congressman has just one person working on the re-election campaign then that person needs to have other duties? You overlook the obvious – if that person is doing non-essential work to the office, then they are not needed! They do not need other work to keep them busy if all other tasks are being completed!

            Or, as I suggested; send that person to the prison to guard inmates that Babs is so flustered about! At least they’d be doing something productive and for the public good while on the public’s dime!

            The only real flaw here is people who think a bloated staff just needs to be given new tasks to complete; and not eliminated where it ought to be.

            Neighbor, this is what has so many of us upset. This has nothing to do with partisanship – it has everything to do with common sense. If you run a company and decide to hire two people to do the work of one – have at it! It’s your company, your money, your loss. This government belongs to all of us! I’m tired of it losing money!

            On top of that… I’m tired of these grand-standing scare tactic declarations from these ‘elected’ officials who want to cling to the borrow, tax and borrow mentality. The government is BROKEN! So many of these ‘elected’ officials are in place because they have created massive resevoirs of people that feed at the public treasury trough, they have spent and borrowed other peoples’ money on their way to job security. It has to end.

            “Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; and to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary. But no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent.”
            John Adams

            In other words, I don’t consent to bloated staffs or bureaucrats.

          • CDEV says

            I am suggesting that as a taxpayer I don’t want to fund their campaign staff. CUT THE JOB!!!!!!! The staff I should be paying should be reading bills making notes, responding to constituent concerns and doing comittee related research. If Harris has 14 people and 10 working on campaign crap then cut 9 jobs from his office but let us say Bachman has 14 people and 13 are doing work compensating for her stupidity than cut the one!

    • Localguy says

      Red-faced blush… I made a mistake… 535 is the total for both houses… it should read:

      “435 in the House = 6090”

      That would lower the total to 9490.

      Sorry for the mistake…


  4. Jay Bee says

    Do you think the fact that the democratic controlled senate has failed to pass a balance in the last 5 years or the socialist community organizer in chef(certainly not a chief) might have something to do with this? Thankfully the disciples of obama are finally realizing you can’t keep taking from the producers of a society and give to the the non producers. “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”

  5. Luther Lingus says

    Too funny when you hear all the things that will be cut or eliminiated with cutting $85 billion from a Trillion Dollar Budget.

    Thousands of TSA workers.
    Thousands of Police, Fire & EMT works.
    Thousands of Teachers.
    Thousands of FBI, DEA, DHS & DOD.
    No gas for the USS Regan to go to Persian Gulf.
    No more money to keep illegals in jail.

    pathetic considering they borrow $ .40 of every dollar they spend.

    If they got that much with $85 billion – that would be a story.

    • Amazed. says

      Ah, man… really? I was going to go out at midnight to watch the planes and satellites fall out of the sky…

  6. Liberty Lover says

    Rand Paul just gave $500,000 back to the taxpayers by running his office more efficiently. How about you, Babs? Have you ever cut waste in your own office budget? All of these elected officials need to remember it’s OUR taxpayer money they’re spending. And that includes our County Council, who are about to gift $100,000 to another corporation. Ridiculous.

  7. Amazed. says

    Hey Staffer who’s tasked with looking over this type thing (since Babs is too busy thinking lofty thoughts to be bothered with our comments)… are ya feelin the love? The basic problem with your useless boss and most every other “esteemed” member of Congress is that they refuse to apply a simple litmus test to the spending they endorse… “if it were my OWN money, would I spend it on this ridiculous Bull$hit?”. It doesn’t take any special talent to spend other people’s money… and spending it just to keep yourself in office is beneath reprehensible.

  8. B says

    It is amazing that those in the Congress and Senate can’t come together and cut 5% of a bloated Federal government. I am even for increasing taxes. All those liberals that want to pay more in taxes should do so. I propose a 2% raise in Federal, state and local taxes for all self identifying liberals. Let them pay more for these programs they want so badly.

    • TPP says

      I have a better idea. Make all elected positions non-paid positions, bring the troops home and end the empire, stop drones, end war on drugs, and abolish TSA. That’s just for starters. 😉

  9. Brianc says

    NO one is losing their job because of money, they may lose it because of politics. Here’s why: Federal Expenditures were: 2009 3.5 Tril, 2010 3.72 tril, 2011 3.63 tril, 2012 3.79 tril, they have asked for 3.80 tril for 2013. IF the gov spends just about the same as last year, why all the threats of cuts? Maybe you won’t get a raise but you won’t lose your job like many in the Private-nonGov Contractor sector have over the last few years. No services are going to be cut. don’t fall for the scare tactics.

  10. Jaguar Judy says

    Well, here we are under sequestration. The stock market hasn’t tanked. The sun came up this morning. The people who went to work last week went to work today. I took a 2% cut on January 1 when the FICA rate went back to where it was a few years ago. I suppose the government can take a 2.5% cut and it shouldn’t result in any trauma. If it does, then we all know it is the politicians punishing the citizens for not going along with them.

  11. ALEX R says

    Senator Mikulski, What specific steps did you take in the past week to cut costs in your office as a result of sequestration?

  12. ALEX R says

    Senator Cardin, What specific steps did you take in the past week to cut costs in your office as a result of sequestration?

  13. ALEX R says

    Looks like the stock market is thriving under sequestration.

    Oh, and Senator Mikulski, looks like Governor O’Malley’s gun legislation will have a large negative effect on arming our military by making it impossible for Maryland based manufacturers to fulfill their contracts. I don’t see any press releases from your office on that.