U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, talks to The Albany Herald editorial board about the damaging impact sequestration and not passing a farm bill will have on the 2nd congressional district.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Southwest Georgia's dependency on farming and defense is not easily overstated.
That's why U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, the Democratic member of the House of Representatives for Southwest Georgia's 2nd, seems so intent on spreading the word about the massive looming defense spending cuts and Congress's failure to pass the farm bill while he's out on his August recess.
"Ultimately, the National Association of Manufacturers has said that, if sequestration goes into effect, over a million jobs would be lost in the country, and 38,700 of those in the state of Georgia," Bishop said.
"So sequestration is a bad thing. I don't care how you look at it; how you cut it. It would be devastating to the safety net for those people who depend on government services and it would be devastating to our national defense," he said.
Sequestration is political jargon for a process in which the federal government is forced to cut its budget under the Budget Control Act to reduce the federal deficit.
If no agreement is reached on how to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit by Jan. 2, the office of Management and Budget is then required by law to cut evenly across the board to get to the $1.5 trillion number.
In this instance, that means that the cuts will impact defense and non-defense spending equally.
Regarding the farm bill, Bishop says that the Senate sent over a farm proposal that some anticipated would be voted on quickly, but a group in the House is holding the bill up.
"There's a particular group that isn't happy with some of the programs in the bill and so the Speaker has said that he'll hold it until he feels he has enough votes to pass it," Bishop said.
The farm bill is crucial to farmers because it signals what programs will or won't be subsidized by the federal government, which allows them to plan how best to run their farms.
"The last thing farmers need right now is uncertainty," Bishop said. "And that's what we have. They need to know what is in this bill so that they can finance equipment, purchase seed and do what they need to do."
And if anyone is expecting Congress to act before the November election on either issue, Bishop is pessimistic.
"As a practical matter, I don't think you'll see any action on it before then," Bishop said.
Congress will reconvene Sept.10.