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Letter to the Senate opposing two amendments by Senator Portman on the Temporary Debt Ceiling Bill

January 31, 2013

Dear Senator: 

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association, we urge you to VOTE NO on two amendments be offered today by Senator Portman to the temporary debt ceiling bill – one that would require spending cuts to match any increase in the debt ceiling limit (S.43), and one that would permanently end any government shutdowns (S.29).  Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 113th Congress.   

S.43, which is modeled on a plan proposed by House Speaker Boehner last year, would essentially require, as the price of raising the debt ceiling, a choice between immediate deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits for current retirees, repeal of health reform’s coverage expansions, or wholesale evisceration of basic assistance programs for vulnerable Americans.  If the plan is enacted, it could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history. 

America is not a deadbeat nation and we must raise the debt ceiling to pay our obligations.  Educators understand that Congress must work to ensure America’s long-term economic prosperity and that we must address the nation’s serious fiscal challenges.  But, raising the debt ceiling to pay bills already incurred should not be negotiable, and certainly should not be held hostage for cuts to programs that serve everyday Americans.   

S. 29 would provide for automatic continuing resolutions should Congress fail to pass new appropriations measures.  Even more troubling, the proposal would freeze spending and then require across-the-board cuts every 90 days should Congress fail to act.  This amendment reflects poor public policy that would allow Congress to fail continually to meet its responsibilities while implementing across-the-board cuts to vital programs.   It would put children, seniors, and working families at great risk, while allowing elected officials to shirk their responsibility to pass yearly funding bills. 

Again, we urge you to VOTE NO on both of the Portman amendments. 

Sincerely, 

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations