(WASHINGTON) – Speaking Sunday morning on ABC News’ This Week, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, called the automatic spending cuts — also known as the “sequester” — that are scheduled to go into effect on March 1 a “stupid thing.”
“I think the sequester was a stupid thing. I voted against it the first time it came up. Congress keeps kicking the can down the road. It’s really a ridiculous thing to do. The fact is that we need to do things that are smart, not take a meat cleaver and just hack cuts,” Engel said. “I think Congress should sit down and avoid the sequester. And if the sequester kicks in, for a week or two, we should then fix it so it doesn’t become a permanent thing.”
Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member, was joined on the This Week roundtable by House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who warned that sequestration would affect national security.
“There will be [an] impact on national security, there is no doubt. And I think there’s some misnomers. So it’s really only 2 cents on the dollar over the whole federal budget, but they’ve scrunched that down into seven months and highlighted, or at least put most of the burden on the Defense Department. So that is going to have an impact. That’s a 13 percent cut,” Rogers said.
Rogers went on to argue for making the departments responsible for giving the cuts “flexibility” to ensure the cuts are made wisely as opposed to indiscriminately.
“There’s a big difference from a sailor on the Eisenhower out in the Mediterranean and the travel coordinator at the EPA. You can’t treat them the same. And the way this is structured it treats everyone the same. Can’t do that,” Rogers said. “We have intelligence operations that could get slowed down or stopped. That’s a problem.”
Automatic spending cuts will go into effect on March 1 if a deal to avert it is not reached before that time. Lawmakers, unable to agree on the makeup of a possible deal, have not been able to reach a deal to avoid the looming cuts. President Obama has called for an alternative that includes both spending cuts and new revenue. Republican leaders have said new revenue is off the table.
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