U.S. Rep Niki Tsongas, Concord's congresswoman, on Thursday ripped a recently passed House bill she says will lock in the spending cuts and tax hikes known as sequestration.
In a 221-207 vote, the House passed the a bill that would establish the Fiscal Year 2014 budget and impact budgetary levels for 2015 to 2023 that Tsongas, a Lowell Democrat, calls "irresponsible" and "reckless" for not addressing the sequestration issue.
In a statement, Tsongas calls sequestration, which began with the debt ceiling debate last year, a threat to the country as a whole, and specifically her district. Tsongas said her office has heard of hundreds of constituents who oppose the sequestration as a concept.
"In short, these draconian cuts threaten to stifle an economy that over the past few years has been showing encouraging signs of growth," says Tsongas. "I have always believed that finding additional savings in our federal budget was an absolute necessity as we work to reduce our deficit.
"However, the sequester equally weakens programs that Democrats and Republicans agree are working, along with those we believe are wasteful. That just doesn’t make sense."
Specifically, Tsongas noted that due to sequestration, local impacts would include a 75 percent funding cut to the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, the closure of air traffic control services at Lawrence Municipal Airport, and furloughs at Hanscom Air Force Base, to name a few.
“I firmly believe a solution is still possible but (this bill) is not it," Tsongas said. "There is room for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that combines targeted spending cuts with new revenue sources, just as every bipartisan group that has looked at this problem has suggested. That is what America needs, not another temporary fix that locks in deep, senseless, and damaging cuts.”
All Democrats in the House, including the entire Massachusetts delegation, opposed the bill, except for three members not present. The bill also gained 10 "No" votes from Republicans and will head to the Senate.