I have heard from many of you concerned about the across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, set to hit the federal government March 1st. Sequestration will have devastating consequences to our national economy, but disproportionately so in our own community.
More than 314,000 federal workers live in Maryland and roughly one third of those live in my district. Thousands more work for universities, nonprofits and private companies that partner with the government, including many defense contractors who support NSA, Fort Meade and APG.
A new study by George Mason University estimates that Maryland stands to lose nearly 115,000 jobs if sequestration occurs, among them:
- Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport would see a 10 percent reduction in air traffic controllers, delaying passengers and cargo, including mail, and potentially impacting safety.
- The Port of Baltimore would lose 10 percent of its U.S. Customs officers, again slowing the transfer of products in and out of the port. This would impact the entire supply chain from the manufacturers to the shippers, truck drivers, retailers and even the customers.
- Medical research grants from the National Institute of Health – half of which go to Johns Hopkins University – would be slashed. This would halt life-saving research and most likely put scientists and lab technicians out of work.
As Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I worked with the Republican Chairman, Congressman Mike Rogers, last year to cut $1 billion from the budgets of our intelligence agencies like the NSA, FBI and CIA without affecting their mission. We did it by going through their budgets line-by-line, eliminating waste and even some programs we like, but simply can’t afford any longer.
I am confused as to why this type of program review hasn’t occurred across the entire federal budget. I have expressed my frustration with leadership on both sides of the aisle and have encouraged them to invite lawmakers with more moderate views to the negotiation table.
It’s not too late to find a real solution. Recovery from just a few weeks of sequestration will take months if not years. Members of Congress must stop trying to score political points and, instead, work on real solutions.