House Democrats Say GOP To Blame For Sequester

"Since the new Congress began, they have not put forward one proposal to prevent the across-the-board sequester," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) of the GOP.

By Stephanie Dingbaum

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee held a hearing Thursday in which a panel of experts spoke about the negative impacts of the looming sequester, which will take effect on March 1. The spending cuts, they said, will mainly impact lower income families.

“This is a self-inflicted crisis that should end today,” said Committee co-chairman Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.).

Though they’re the minority party in the House, the Democrats held the hearing to bash Republicans for being out of session this week as the countdown to the sequester trudges on.

Stephen S. Fuller, Ph.D. professor of public policy from George Mason University, told lawmakers that the $1 trillion in cuts spread out over the next decade would cause the economy to shed 2.1 million jobs and cause the unemployment rate to rise by 1.5 percent. Marion C. Blakey, President and CEO of Aerospace Industries Association of America, bemoaned the impact the cuts would have on her field, which is the nation’s largest net exporter.

The White House and Democrats have also argued that schools and hospitals will suffer significant funding cuts. Megan Allen, a fifth grade teacher from Tampa, FL and Florida’s 2010 teacher of the year, described the devastating affect these cuts will have on education, particularly those students from low income families or who have disabilities. Meanwhile, Mary C. Selecky from the Washington State Department of Health and Science explained the impacts the cuts will have on health care services.  “This is really about negative health outcomes,” she said.

Andrews bashed House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for ruling out tax revenue as part of a solution to replace the sequester. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) called on congressional Republicans to do their job instead of avoiding the situation. “Since the new Congress began, they have not put forward one proposal to prevent the across-the-board sequester.”

Republicans passed two bills last year to replace the sequester, but neither measure was considered by the Democratically-controlled Senate.

Geoff Holtzman contributed to this report.

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