Budget impasse likely to affect all Americans' lives, local lawmaker says

Posted Monday, Mar. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH - Sooner or later, if it goes on long enough, the sequester will somehow affect most Americans' lives, U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey said Monday.

That's why he hopes Congress can pass a measure soon to lessen the effects of the automatic spending cuts triggered because federal leaders couldn't agree on a better way to cut federal spending.

"Sequestration ... is not the right way to go," Veasey, D-Fort Worth, told more than 200 people at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Petroleum Club. "I'm opposed to the sequester, but it's the law now.

"The cuts are indiscriminate -- and not every department in the United States can [sustain] a cut."

Veasey, elected last year as the representative of the newly drawn 33rd Congressional District, which stretches from the Fort Worth Stockyards to Dallas' Oak Cliff neighborhood, spoke to local businesspeople at the Chamber's Leaders in Government Series about issues ranging from the need for bipartisanship to a balanced budget.

The budget, he said, is a huge priority and will require compromise on all sides.

As for bipartisanship, he said just last week he reached out to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, to see if the two could work together in addressing issues for North Texans. Barton agreed and suggested reaching out to other members as well "so we can sit down and talk about some of these issues," Veasey said.

But sequestration is a key issue for citizens and lawmakers alike.

Veasey noted the close call that North Texas had recently, when three area air traffic control towers were initially targeted for closure because of sequestration -- Arlington, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth Spinks -- and then were spared.

But sequestration is affecting North Texans in many ways other than the fact that there are no more White House tours.

The ongoing cuts have meant everything from furloughs for local Department of Defense workers to slashed funding for the tuition assistance program for veterans.

And overall, Veasey said, sequestration will affect the country's economic recovery.

Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks told Veasey Monday during the question-and-answer portion of the luncheon that he's worried about the impact sequestration will have on Tarrant County -- and the county's budget.

"Just because the federal government doesn't want to pay for those things," that doesn't mean they aren't needed, Brooks said. "Things roll downhill and county government is at the bottom of that hill."

Whether the slashed funding is for healthcare, housing or other costs, Brooks said, "somebody is going to have to pay for those things."

Veasey said Brooks' worries are valid.

"That is a real concern," he said. "But if the money isn't there [in Congress] ... think of what will happen to those individuals if the county can't find the money.

"Right now, it's not bad, but eventually, [the sequester] can get really, really bad."

Anna M. Tinsley, (817) 390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley

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