Earlier this month, devastating across-the-board cuts -- known in Washington as the "sequester" -- kicked in. Since then, Americans of all political stripes have been scrambling to cope with a new world in which critical government services like pre-K education for disadvantaged kids, unemployment insurance for jobless workers, meat inspection, medical research, the prosecution of federal crimes, and housing assistance for the poor have all been subjected to deep, senseless cuts. According to President Obama, the sequester even puts our national security at risk by hampering troop training and readiness drills.
Worst of all, the sequester will harm our economic recovery by putting between 750,000 and 2 million jobs at risk. These cuts will create tremendous uncertainty in our financial markets and among consumers. They could even throw our weak economy back into a recession.
Luckily, there is a way out of this self-inflicted crisis: Congress can simply cancel the sequester.
Just hours before the sequester kicked into effect, I introduced H.R. 900, the "Cancel the Sequester Act of 2013" -- a one-sentence bill that would repeal the section of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that created the sequester.
Since then, momentum has been building to repeal the sequester and eliminate the possibility of a disastrous "Grand Bargain" that could gut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits.
The same day I introduced H.R. 900, host Chris Hayes and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich praised the bill and the sequester repeal movement on MSNBC.
A nationwide petition was soon initiated that called on Speaker Boehner to hold a vote on H.R. 900. Over the past month, that petition and others like it have grown from a few hundred signers to over 300,000 today.
Last week, I and several of my colleagues -- Keith Ellison, Alan Grayson, Sheila Jackson-Lee -- stood with these advocates and called on Speaker Boehner to heed their calls for a vote to cancel the sequester.
Rep. Grayson even hand-delivered these petitions to Speaker Boehner's office on Capitol Hill.
Today, this momentum is taking the form of a National Day of Action, where working families, federal employees, seniors and children, will hold over 100 rallies across the country protesting sequestration. At these events, lawmakers and the public will hear from Americans who are being directly impacted by these massive budget cuts.
It's clear that growing numbers of Americans understand that standing by idly as the sequester destroys American jobs and devastates critical family support programs is not an option. Congress created the sequester and it is up to Congress to find a solution to this problem. We have momentum on our side. It's time to cancel the sequester.