As DoD Furloughs Begin, Defense Industry Heightens Efforts to Reverse Sequestration

With furloughs for 650,000 civilian defense workers beginning today, the defense industry is ramping up its efforts to overturn sequestration. Under the Pentagon's revised plan, civilian defense workers will face one day without pay each week for the rest of the current federal fiscal year, which ends September 30.

Several public sector employee unions have launched an effort to stop the furloughs. Some could be avoided by reducing spending on unneeded weapons systems and capping defense contractor compensation instead.

Meanwhile, the defense industry is continuing to work to overturn defense-related sequestration cuts more broadly. According to a July 6 story in The Hill:

Cord Sterling, vice president of legislative affairs for the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), said his group is working to articulate the damage from the cuts that are now beginning to take hold. They remain hopeful that a fix is on the horizon.

Sterling said that the defense industry will have an easier time making their case to lawmakers because they now have examples of grounded planes, idled ships and layoffs to point to, rather than just hypothetical damages.

The defense industry has allies on Capitol Hill. According to The Hill:

The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee asked the Pentagon to lay out in detail how it would cut $52 billion from its budgets in an attempt to create some political will to reverse the cuts.

In a July 8 statement, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said the problem was a failure by Republicans to negotiate in good faith on the broader budget. 

“While Republicans work on their debt limit ransom note, hundreds of thousands of Department of Defense workers are scheduled to begin furloughs because Republicans refuse to join Democrats in a budget conference and work with us to replace all of sequestration in a responsible and fair way. The people I talk to in Washington state and the vast majority of families across the country agree that sequestration is a terrible way to cut spending, and there is no reason for Republicans to try to push us to the next manufactured crisis before we get to work on a balanced replacement.”

Murray's statement was consistent with a memo she released last week. For more information, check out our page devoted to sequestration news, Sequestration Central.

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