WASHINGTON, D.C. ñ Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed a two-week temporary measure to keep the government funded through March 18, 2011. The measure passed the U.S. House yesterday and will now go to the President for his signature. Both chambers must now agree to a spending measure through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30, 2011.
Harkin is Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee that funds health, education and labor.
“With the threat of a government shutdown looming, today the Senate averted that threat by passing a short-term funding measure. Despite passage of this measure, we are still in the very same predicament: House Republicans are essentially threatening to shut down the government if we don’t agree to slash $61 billion over the next seven months. But the $61 billion they have proposed will hurt our economy and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country when so many are already unemployed, threating to put America back into recession just as the economy is stabilizing.
“I voted against this proposal not because I want to see the government shut down, but because this is not the right way to budget: Congress should not keep the government open in two-week increments with proposals that slash funding for priorities such as education or unfairly target the most vulnerable.
“My primary concern with this specific proposal stems from my concern about the economy overall, which is greatly threatened by Republican budget cuts that economists agree will kill jobs and increase the odds of a double-dip recession. I am also troubled by the substantial cuts to education programs. This amounts to significant funding cuts that hurt kids, especially the neediest kids, some of our Title I schools and others.
“There is no question that the time has come for tough budget decisions, but the smart way to bring down the deficit is for Congress to pursue a balanced approach of major spending cuts and necessary revenue increases, while continuing to make investments in areas like education. That is the only way our country will remain competitive in the global economy and create good jobs that provide a sustained economic expansion in the years ahead.”|