Quad-City Times Op-Ed: America deserves better than sequestration

Day after day, the hardworking men and women at the Rock Island Arsenal proudly get up, go to work, and manufacture the equipment our troops in harm’s way depend on. It is unconscionable that the workers who deliver for our country and support our troops are being forced to take a significant pay cut because Congress and the Administration can’t work together to replace the arbitrary cuts, better known as sequestration. While we both believe that the nation’s financial situation must be dealt with, sequestration is an illogical and irresponsible way to get our spending under control.

The across-the-board cuts that have led to these furloughs are forcing middle class families across the Quad Cities region to take a pay cut for no reason other than congressional dysfunction. We were both strongly opposed to sequestration cuts from the very beginning and have both fought to replace the sequester with a balanced approach that doesn’t hurt the middle class and lead to undeserved furloughs.

It has been nearly two years since Republicans in the House passed the Budget Control Act, over our opposition, which triggered these senseless budget cuts and led to the furloughs. This is not an anniversary that should be celebrated. It is a stark reminder that Congress has not come together in a bipartisan fashion to fix these cuts in a manner that does not cause salary cuts for the hardworking families we represent.

In a July 15 editorial (“Arsenal endures attack by Congress), the Quad-City Times stated, “Congress could have made tough decisions and compromised to enact real spending controls. It might have worked with the Defense Department to identify efficiencies.”

We could not agree more. Congress needs to immediately come back to the table and figure out a way to make targeted, efficient, and effective cuts. We’ve fought to give the Department of Defense more flexibility to avoid salary cuts while a grand deal to replace them is figured out. Congress has to put aside the partisan bickering and figure out a way to move Rock Island Arsenal, the Quad Cities and our nation forward without resorting to senseless furloughs for workers.

There are many things that go on in Washington that are baffling to both the American people and to us. The fact that congressional leaders and the White House have not yet sat down to discuss how to avert this mess is only the latest. We will continue to work on a bipartisan basis to find commonsense solutions to reverse these cuts for the men and women at the Rock Island Arsenal. These cuts are having real life effects each and every day in our region. The American people deserve better.