U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today released the following joint statement on the Obama Administration's guidance issued today by the Department of Labor that it would be "inappropriate" for defense companies and other government contractors to notify their workers of the possibility of mass layoffs as a result of the looming across-the-board budget cuts coming next year under sequestration, as is required under the WARN Act:
"At a time when our economy continues to suffer from staggeringly high unemployment, the Obama Administration today took away an important planning tool for Americans who may lose their jobs as a result of the failure of Congress and the White House to address the looming and entirely predictable threat of budget sequestration. Sequestration is currently the law of the land, and our nation's workers have a right to know how these sequestration cuts which begin in January may impact them.
"This decision is especially disturbing in light of the fact that the Department of Labor previously stated in a Fact Sheet that "since it has no administrative or enforcement responsibility under' the WARN Act, it "cannot provide specific advice or guidance with respect to individual situations.' Today the Department did just that, issuing guidance to government contractors not to provide their employees advance notification of potential layoffs as a result of sequestration. This is a troubling turnaround that lays bare the obvious political aim of today's announcement -- avoiding mass layoff notices just days before the November 6th election.
"Today we are visiting communities in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia that will be hardest-hit by these budget cuts precisely because they do so much to support and equip our men and women in uniform. The Americans we have met today are asking Republicans and Democrats to do their jobs -- to come together to find a solution that avoids this threat to our national security and economy. They are also asking for something that has been totally lacking in Washington -- presidential leadership.
"President Obama has completely refused to engage in this debate, and he shares direct responsibility for the potential loss of over one million jobs if defense sequestration takes effect. The Senate Armed Services Committee has received letters from eight defense companies, all of which advise that they will have to lay off thousands -- if not tens of thousands -- of workers if sequestration occurs. These Americans deserve fair warning that politics in Washington is placing their jobs in jeopardy. President Obama's Office of Management and Budget has ordered the Department of Defense not to plan for defense sequestration and now the President's Department of Labor is citing the lack of planning as a reason WARN Act notices cannot be issued. Today's ruling represents a deliberate political effort from the White House to skirt the law and continue to use our national security and our troops as a partisan bargaining chip.
"American workers deserve a Congress and a President that puts their interests and our national security over partisan gamesmanship in an election year. Time is running out."