Editor's Note: The following are Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum's prepared remarks to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense regarding the Department of Defense's fiscal challenges.
"Let me start with a quote from President John Kennedy who said, 'Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man.'
This sequester is a folly, it is shameful, and it is a man-made mess that is completely and wholly reversible.
Gentleman, I absolutely believe your dire predictions of the consequences of sequestration on military readiness, capabilities, and our overall national security.
We are shooting ourselves in the foot.
Responsible leaders would put spending, revenues, and tax expenditures on the table and come up with a compromise that protects the American people because this government provides services and protections for every American.
I voted against the Budget Control Act because I am strongly opposed to the idea of passing bad laws in the foolish hope they never take effect.
For some reason this Congress acts likes it has the luxury of governing this great country with gimmicks and game playing.
We do not have that luxury.
When I came to Congress in 2001 the Pentagon’s budget was $310 billion and the federal government was projected to have a 10-year budget surplus of over $5 trillion.
Since then the Pentagon’s budget has doubled and trillions of dollars of spending on wars, tax cuts, and programs has been put on a credit card.
For much of the past decade brave Americans in uniform have been serving and fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Over a trillion dollars have been spent on the wars and not one penny of additional tax revenue was raised by Congress to pay for those wars.
To fight these wars, absolute and total sacrifice was demanded from the military leaders here today, the men and women in your commands, and all of your families. You all delivered for us with honor.
But the rest of the American people have been asked to sacrifice nothing, to contribute nothing extra.
Now we see this Congress doing nothing but watching as education, public health, infrastructure investments, and military readiness are gutted.
But again, taxes are off the table according to my Republican colleagues – even if it results in making our nation less secure, less protected.
As Americans, we need to pay for the government we want.
We need to pay for a strong military and for the privilege of living in a free, democratic nation.
And, if that means paying higher taxes then I am willing to pay higher taxes rather than kick kids out of Head Start and kick poor moms off of WIC.
Gentleman, while the military personnel account is protected from sequestration it would appear that important services supporting military families are not protected.
What effect will sequestration have on military families – the spouses, children, and the quality of life of those loved ones who support the war fighter?
For example, is it accurate that cuts to child development centers and impact aid cuts to military schools will directly hit the children of service men and women?
Finally, what do you believe will be the impact of retaining our best and brightest members of the military when this fiscal mess makes their jobs more difficult and undermines the well-being of their families – especially their children?"
McCollum serves on the House Appropriations Committee.