Rep. Pascrell Stresses Impact of Sequestration on Sandy Recovery Efforts
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 09:59 AM EST
Congressman makes stop in Moonachie to discuss across the board budget cuts before heading back to DC
MOONACHIE - With the March 1st deadline for $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts to military and domestic programs rapidly approaching, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today joined Hurricane Sandy victims at Moonachie Borough Hall to discuss the devastating impact sequestration will have on Sandy recovery efforts. In total, the sequester mandates across-the-board cuts of almost $1 trillion over nine years - 50 % from defense and 50 % from nondefense spending.
"Sequestration would be nothing short of a fiscal hurricane for the victims that have already been devastated by Sandy," said Rep. Pascrell. "If Congress does not step in with a plan to avert these cuts, about $3 billion will be slashed from the Sandy aid bill we fought so hard to pass last month. This manufactured fiscal disaster will add insult to injury to the many families and businesses that are still hurting across the region.
"It took Congress over 90 days to finally get assistance to victims that desperately need it, and to jeopardize this aid over partisan politics not a month later is unconscionable. It's imperative we rebuild a stronger Garden State that is better prepared for future disasters and cutting disaster aid will not only prevent us from rebuilding today, but put innocent lives in harm's way tomorrow. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together on a balanced replacement to the sequester that spares Sandy victims any further suffering."
During recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan discussed sequestration's impact on Sandy recovery.
"Sequestration seriously threatens our Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts," said Secretary Donovan. "A five percent cut amounts to a cut of $3 billion from the Sandy Supplemental just passed by Congress, taking away crucial funding for repair and recovery concerning housing, transportation, and other areas. For example, the funding that would be cut from CDBG could help make necessary repairs to more than 10,000 homes and small businesses."
The cut to the Sandy aid package also includes a $1 billion cut to FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which it uses to reimburse state and local governments for recovery costs following federally-declared disasters. This will cause the fund to run out earlier in the year, and creates uncertainty for state and local governments trying to prepare or respond to disasters.
Additional cuts to first responder programs like Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act and the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE), both of which Rep. Pascrell authored, will also negatively impact readiness for future disasters. New Jersey stands to lose $1,517,454 in investments in first responders.
Fact Sheet: Impact of Sequestration on New Jersey
How will the sequester impact Middle Class New Jersey Families?
• The recently passed Sandy aid package will be reduced by $3 billion. This will eliminate federal assistance for over 10,000 storm-damaged homes and small businesses, and take away vital recovery funding for transportation, housing, and other needs. [Testimony by The Honorable Shaun Donovan, Secretary of HUD, Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing, 2/14/13]
• New Jersey will lose $1,517,454 in investments in first responders. FIRE Grants help firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed resources. SAFER provides funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help increase the number of firefighters in their communities. The across-the-board cuts under sequestration would mean approx. $542,538 less in FIRE Grants and $974,916 less in SAFER funding for New Jersey firefighters and first responders, making us less prepared for the next storm. [CRS, 10/2/12; FEMA, SAFER Grants; FEMA, FIRE Grants]
• 10,590 fewer special education students in New Jersey will receive support. As a result of across-the-board cuts, New Jersey schools will lose $17.1 million in funding for special education grants, supporting 206 fewer jobs. [HHS, accessed 12/17/12; Department of Education, 2/13/13]
• 161 New Jersey teachers could lose their jobs and 1,300 New Jersey children will lose access to school readiness programs. Sequestration could result in a $11.7 million reduction in Title I funding for schools, and a $7.5 million reduction in funding for Head Start. [HHS, accessed 12/17/12; NEA, 2/5/13; Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies]
• Parents of New Jersey children will lose access to child care services. Cuts to Child Care and Development Block Grant could result in a $2,016,288 reduction in funding, limiting access to services and providing support for 600 fewer children. Department of Education, accessed 2/12/13; Department of Education, 2/13/13; NEA, 2/5/13]
How will it impact jobs and the economy in New Jersey?
• New Jersey will lose $12.2 million in funding for medical research and innovation. Across-the-board budget cuts would mean that reduced National Institutes of Health funding award funding would impede medical research and cost 253 jobs. [NIH, accessed 2/12/13; UMR, 2/13]
• New Jersey will experience deep cuts in funding for housing and community development. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides communities with resources to provide decent housing , and create jobs through the retention and expansion of businesses. The Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) program assists low-income and elderly Americans afford safe and clean housing. Across-the-board cuts would have reduce CDBG funding by $4,040,849 and allow the HCV program to support 3,389 fewer families. [CBPP, 2/14/13; HUD CDBG; HUD HCV]
How will it impact on health services in New Jersey?
• 314 fewer New Jersey women will be screened for cancer. [CDC, Calculations Based on Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies, 7/25/12]
• 3,930 fewer children will receive life-saving vaccinations. [White House report released 02/24/13]
• $488,000 less to provide seniors with meals on wheels and nutrition services. [White House report released 02/24/13]
Prepared by the office of Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr.