Despite a rapidly approaching deadline, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is still hopeful Congress can reach an agreement before Friday to prevent the implementation of the automatic federal budget cuts, known as the sequester.
“I think you have to work up to the last minute,” said Senator Casey, “And we’ve seen a lot can happen sometimes in the last day or couple of hours.” The Senator’s proposed plan combines new revenue sources as well as spending cuts to save $110 billion.
Finding a means of sidestepping the sequester would not be merely avoiding a problem, Senator Casey said. Besides preventing involuntary furloughs for thousands of workers and cuts in services, coming to an agreement before March 1 would allow Congress until the first week of January 2014 to reach an agreement on tax reform.
“It [tax reform] is the whole linchpin to getting a larger agreement to put us on a sustainable fiscal path, even as we’re working to increase job growth.”
The sequester would cut funding for medical research and could therefore threaten the economic health of southwestern Pennsylvania if it goes into effect.
“One of the reasons the economy in southwestern Pennsylvania is strong is because of those medical research jobs, and because of the cures for disease, and the healing and hope that comes from those medical breakthroughs.”
Senator Casey’s resolve to find a workable solution stems from his belief that Pennsylvanians would quickly feel the effects of the sequester. If Congress cannot reach an agreement before Friday, the Senator says, then it must not allow disputes to drag on for months.
“We should focus on days to prevent the full impact of these across-the-board indiscriminate cuts.”