Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of The House Armed Services Committee, has provided congress with a copy of the Department of Defense projection on the impact of potential furloughs that would take effect for civilian DOD employees if the automatic spending cuts known as "sequestration" begin next month.
In California alone, the budget cuts could lead to as many as 63,803 civilian DOD employees being furloughed for up to 22 non-consecutive days. Nationally, sequestration could lead to 730,244 people being furloughed, plus an additional 37,888 DOD workers overseas. The Pentagon estimates that the effects of the furloughs, force reductions and lost business in the defense industry could cost the economy $15.4 billion.
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According to a fact sheet released by the Committee, sequestration could also mean an additional 100,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen would be separated from active service, leading to:
- The smallest ground force since 1940
- A fleet of fewer than 230 ships, the smallest level since 1915
- The smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force
The Pentagon informed Congress earlier of its intent to impose furloughs on the DOD’s entire civilian workforce as it copes with the spending cuts. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told congress last week that civilian employees would probably be furloughed one day week for up to 22 weeks, resulting in a 20 percent cut in pay for civilians.
“This is sad but not unexpected news," said Chairman McKeon in a written statement. "(The Committee) predicted over a year ago that sequester would result in mass furloughs and layoffs of civilian employees. Since that time, the House voted twice to resolve sequester and avoid these furloughs. These men and women, many of whom have dedicated their careers to their country, deserve better than to be treated as pawns in a game of political brinksmanship."
Mckeon says that the proposals President Obama has put forth to avoid sequestration would still include tens of billions in cuts to the military, cuts that could put many civilian DOD jobs in jeopardy even if the sequester doesn't take effect.
“Republicans in the House and Senate have repeatedly put forward proposals that cut spending, spur economic growth, and protect national security. It is only the President’s political desire to raise taxes yet again, as a function of the sequester he proposed, while ignoring reforms to the unsustainable entitlement programs driving our debt, that is forcing this crisis to continue.”
In a separate letter to McKeon, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, "We will provide affected employees the requisitie advance notice before a furlough occurs. The Department is also engaged in the necessary and appropriate discussions with employee unions, and will discharge any applicable collective bargaining obligations that may arrise."
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