Members of the Kansas congressional delegation are criticizing the congressional supercommittee for failing Monday to reach a deal on federal budget cuts.
“I share the tremendous disappointment of many Americans today as another opportunity to solve our nation’s debt crisis has passed us by. But the inability of the supercommittee to find common ground is nothing new for a Congress that often puts political party above love of country,” said U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. “When I opposed the deal that formed the supercommittee in August, I did so because I firmly believe each member of Congress was elected to make difficult decisions and that those decisions should be debated in the light of day.”
No members of the state’s delegation, all of whom are Republicans, served on the 12-member bipartisan committee.
Rep. Kevin Yoder, a freshman Republican who represents the 3rd District that includes eastern Lawrence, also didn’t support the legislation that created the committee.
“I believed its formation deferred the hard work facing Congress,” Yoder said. “Although our challenges are steep, failure is not an option, and I remain committed to working with members of both parties to find solutions to tackle the looming debt crisis facing our nation.”
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the committee’s failure to reach a deal was a “major disappointment.”
“How could Kansans not be disappointed?” said the state’s senior senator. “Unemployment remains high. Our markets are teetering. We again fear another recession, and the only answer my friends on the other side of the aisle can find is to raise taxes on small businesses and families already struggling.”
Supercommittee leaders said Monday it was not possible to present “any bipartisan agreement” — omitting any reference to the goal of $1.2 trillion in cuts over a decade that had been viewed as a minimum for success.
President Barack Obama, criticized by Republicans for keeping the committee at arm’s length, said refusal by the GOP to raise taxes on the wealthy as part of a deal that also cut social programs was the main stumbling block. Obama has pledged to veto any attempt by lawmakers to repeal a requirement for $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts triggered by the supercommittee’s failure to reach a compromise, unless Congress approves an alternative approach.
Those cuts are designed to fall evenly on the military and domestic government programs beginning in 2013, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as well as lawmakers in both parties have warned the impact on the Pentagon could be devastating.
Roberts said those potential cuts “disproportionally affect” the military “while runaway spending programs remain untouched.”
“My hope now is that under this scenario, the public will raise its voice and the Congress will come back on Monday and start the debate anew to cut spending,” Roberts said.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents the 2nd District, which includes western Lawrence, also was disappointed and had hoped Congress could avoid the mandated cuts, her staff said.
“The congresswoman believes the opportunity still exists for the full Congress to come to an agreement that will cut $1.2 trillion from our deficit without the need for the full trigger to be implemented,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, a Jenkins spokesman.