Rep. Jackson Lee: Sequester is Like Japanese 'Tsunami’--‘It May Come When We're Away in Work Recess'

By Jon Street | March 15, 2013 | 12:41pm EDT

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). (AP photo)

( – Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on Thursday compared the series of automatic federal budget cuts that took effect on March 1 to the Japanese tsunami of 2011 that killed more than 15,000 people and left millions more without power and water, while sparking a nuclear reactor meltdown.

“And for those whose memories fade, I want you to be reminded of the tsunami,” Jackson Lee said. “For it does not give notice and it is tragic and reckless for those who say ‘You know what, the sequester has started and I feel pretty good’ because you have not been hit by the tsunami.

She also “warned” that this “tsunami” of effects from the cuts, known as The Sequester, could come at any time – even at a time when Congress is not in session.

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“It may come at a moment -- when we are away on work recess, or when the speaker has sent us home and we’re not here working. And all of a sudden a great percentage of America will be walking around without benefits, without childcare, without teachers in our schools, and we’ll ask the question ‘What happened?’” she said.

“It was the tsunami of the sequester,” she added.

Jackson Lee appeared at a Capitol Hill news conference in support of the “Cancel the Sequester Act of 2013,” introduced by her Democratic House colleague, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) on March 6.

The liberal Democrats urged House Republican leaders to join with Democrats to eliminate the provision in the Budget Control Act of 2011 that authorizes $44 billion in across-the-board cuts to take effect each year for the next ten years, amounting to about $1.2 trillion in total cuts after one decade. [

The Sequester, which took effect on March 1 as a result of a failure by both Congress and the White House to negotiate a deal for alternative cuts, accounts for about 1.2 percent ($44 billion) of this year’s overall federal budget.

The automatic across-the-board “cuts,” however, only slow the rate of growth of federal spending, rather than reduce the amount of funding that is already available.

For the past four years, the federal budget deficit has not fallen below $1 trillion. Meanwhile, the national debt is $16,700,634,854,470.52

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