Maryland’s employment, education and health care sectors will all be negatively impacted by federal sequestration, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told the AFRO.

“The sequester across the board will have negative effects on a ton of people across the country and particularly minorities,” said Hoyer.

Sequestration began on March 1, bringing a series of across-the-board budget cuts to a variety of federal departments and programs, especially in areas of discretionary spending.

The Congressional Budget Office reported that full implementation of sequestration will impact 750,000 jobs nationwide and 9,000 in Maryland over the next 18 months. More than 800 young children could be kicked out of the Head Start program in Maryland, 770 fewer low income students could receive financial aid for college and up to 400 disadvantaged children could lose access to child care.

“The sequester will undermine defense and growth in the national economy… there is an unwillingness to compromise,” said Hoyer.

More than 8,600 women and children would be dropped from the Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) between March and September because of budget cuts caused by the sequester. A total of $543 million that would be cut in the program nationwide will remove more than 450,000 people of color out of the program.

“We need to have a big, bold, balanced plan,” Hoyer told the AFRO, “a plan which looks at all spending and revenues, and tries to balance out our spending and revenues so we can get back to the balanced budget we had under the last years of the Clinton administration.”

Among Democrats proposing alternatives, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) offered the Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Act, which would have eliminated the sequester for the 2013 calendar year and replaced it with a mixture of spending cuts and revenue increases.

The bill included the Buffet Rule, which would apply a minimum 30 percent income tax to the nation’s millionaires, and would have cut subsidies to the five big oil companies and farmers. However, the Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Act was blocked for the third time by the GOP on February 26.

“Tonight marks the third time that House Republicans have refused to take up a Democratic substitute to the sequester while failing to put forth their own sequester alternative,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “With 750,000 jobs at stake—not to mention the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal employees—this is a total abdication of leadership from Speaker Boehner and his caucus.”

Hoyer proposed gradual cuts in spending over the next 10 years as another alternative to the current sequester.

Hoyer’s three- point plan to turn around America’s failing economy includes investments in education, innovation and infrastructure. “We need to research and develop new products to grow the economy. America has been the innovation capital of the world and we need to keep doing that,” said Hoyer.


Krishana Davis

AFRO Staff Writers