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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

Letter to the Editor: An Open Letter to the UC Davis Community

Hello UC Davis Students, faculty, staff and community partners,

As the proud representative of California’s third congressional district, which includes UC Davis, I need to alert you to events in Washington that directly impact our campus.

Mandatory across-the-board cuts known as “sequestration” came into effect on Friday. We can still avoid the worst damage, but Congress needs to act soon.

Under sequestration, research at UC Davis could experience an 8.4 percent cut — more than $42 million. This would be the equivalent of 445 jobs, but that’s not the whole story. Students on campus will see their work hampered, with research labs operating at reduced capacity. If we fail to abate sequestration, class offerings will also likely be reduced in the coming academic year.

The harm from sequestration doesn’t stop there. The UC Davis Health System will see a $4.6 million loss in Medicare revenues. Some students already struggling to pay for their education, already saddled with debt, will see hundreds of dollars taken out of their pockets with cuts to work study and grants. Pell Grants are protected from cuts in 2013, but they too could see a substantial reduction if Congress fails to act, harming the 43 percent of your classmates who currently rely on Pell Grants.

I don’t even have the space to discuss the million jobs that will be destroyed, risks to national security, delays in flight travel, layoffs of teachers and childcare workers, cuts to breast cancer screenings and childhood vaccinations, or closures of national parks and beaches.

How did we get here? In 2011, America faced a manufactured economic crisis. As one of only two industrialized countries — the other being Denmark — that requires its legislature to vote on honoring existing debts and obligations, a periodic extension of the so-called “debt limit” is an absolutely essential congressional action. Unfortunately, congressional Republicans used the opportunity to extract demands they otherwise would be unable to secure. The vote was delayed until we were days away from default. Apple had more cash on hand than the U.S. Treasury.

Responsible nations honor their debts, so Congress voted on must-pass legislation to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States. Had we failed to extend the debt limit, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, America’s bond rating would have been in tatters, interest rates would have skyrocketed, international investors would have taken their money elsewhere, retirement accounts would have been in jeopardy, and hundreds of thousands of jobs would have been destroyed. A “yes” vote was the only responsible vote.

That bill included sequestration, which called for cuts so mindless, it was believed Congress would have to come together for the sake of America. I’d still like to believe that. On three separate occasions, I voted to end sequestration. I’m still prepared to make a tough vote.

When I was a UC Regent, I voted against every undergraduate tuition hike, because pricing students out of an education is terrible public policy. Yet even at the peak of the Great Recession, I never saw the Legislature or University of California propose anything as reckless as sequestration, which could easily drag us back into a recession.

I’m asking you, the campus community, to get involved. Make your voices heard. Mobilize your friends at campuses throughout the state. Make sure our state’s Congressional delegation knows that our students are ready to fight for our future. Make sure your family knows that sequestration directly impacts someone they love. If I can’t convince my colleagues in Congress to stop sequestration, maybe you can.

Thank you,
Congressman John Garamendi


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