Senate to Vote on Plan to Avert Worst of Sequester Cuts

Update: The American Family Economic Protection Act failed to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate for the bill to proceed to a final vote. The vote was 51-49 in favor of advancing the bill.

Automatic federal cuts to a broad range of crucial services are scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. These cuts will have a direct, disastrous impact on Pennsylvania families and children, and leading economists have warned of the damaging impact it will have on job creation and our economy. 

The Senate has an opportunity today to take a first step toward halting these across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration. The American Family Economic Protection Act is up for a vote; if enacted, it would delay cuts until January 2014 to give Congress time to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Sequestration is bad policy. It will hurt the still-struggling economy and undermine our ability to invest in critical priorities for our children and communities. In Pennsylvania alone, 5,400 fewer low-income children will be served by Head Start or receive child care subsidies; 1,000 fewer victims of domestic violence will receive help; and 3,500 fewer individuals will receive substance abuse treatment.

In education, Pennsylvania will lose $26.4 million in funding for primary and secondary schools as well as $21.4 million for children with disabilities, impacting tens of thousands of students. Jobs will also be lost. Pennsylvania is estimated to lose more than 78,000 jobs in FY 2012/FY 2013.

There will also be cuts to nutrition programs for children and the elderly, mental health services, rental assistance, home heating help, law enforcement, environmental protection, food safety and more. More details here.

There is a better way. The American Family Economic Protection Act would raise revenue from wealthy households who currently pay a relatively low tax rate; close loopholes on certain corporations; and include an equal mix of defense and non-defense spending cuts, with the non-defense cuts coming from reductions in farm subsidies. It would raise up to $110 billion, the amount needed to offset the sequester through January 2014.

Take a moment to email Senators Robert Casey and Pat Toomey to urge them to adopt this bill. It will provide Congress with more time to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction that is far more responsible than sequestration.

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