WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, lauded passage today of the Bipartisan Budget Act. The measure has already passed the House of Representatives and will eliminate the possibility of a government shutdown in the near future. His remarks on the floor of the Senate can be found here.
“The American people want both parties in Congress to work together to get done the business of our nation. This budget, while not the budget I would have written, is a sign that Democrats and Republicans can actually work together. It is truly bipartisan and represents real compromise, which should be encouraging.
“I strongly support this budget agreement, but I do so with some concerns about what is included and what is left out. I would have liked to see a long-term agreement or so-called grand bargain. Two years is longer than we’ve had recently. But I am disappointed that it is only a two-year agreement and does not completely remove sequestration. Sequestration equates to mindless, across-the-board cuts that have hurt our economy and cost us jobs in Maryland and nationally.
“It is regrettable that this agreement adds a 1.3 percent increase in the retirement contributions for new hires to federal service and that it cuts the COLA for military veterans. After a three-year pay freeze, sequestration-related furloughs and other cuts, federal workers have contributed more than $120 billion toward deficit reduction. Congress should be asking what we need to ensure we have a federal workforce with the necessary skills to execute the responsibilities with maximum effect at a reasonable cost. We should not be asking them to ante up even more.
“I am also disappointed that we are recessing without extending unemployment insurance for 1.3 million workers who are in danger of losing benefits on January 1. Unemployment rates are getting lower and we’re all working to make sure they get as low as we can, but if you’re unemployed and you’re looking for work, it’s tough out there. The right thing for us to do is to continue these insurance benefits …The money is there. We need to make sure those benefits are continued. It will help millions of Americans who are trying to keep their families together during these very challenging times.”