In a letter to Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have called for a balanced, bipartisan deficit reduction solution that protects jobs and national security interests. The letter and call for action comes in the wake of the United States Navy announcing extraordinary budget-cutting measures in preparation for further cuts under sequestration.
The New England senators lambasted Congress' inaction in the present lead up to budget sequestration which could enact nearly $1.2 trillion in defense and non-defense spending within the federal budget. The measures the Navy announced include a civilian hiring freeze, cutting temporary workers at shipyards and base operating support facilities, reduced funding for critical repairs, and a possible22-day furlough of civilian Naval employees. As Shaheen and Collins say in their letter, these cuts "would have severe ramifications for many critical defense facilities, including our own Portsmouth Naval Shipyard."
"The Navy's announcement underscores just how unacceptable automatic sequestration cuts are not only to our national security but to our economy as well. We need a comprehensive plan to rein in our debt and deficits but not in a way that puts our vital national security and economic interests at risk. I'm disappointed that we missed an opportunity to work in this manner last year during the fiscal cliff negotiations but am hopeful that moving forward we can take steps to avoid the kinds of actions that the Navy announced," Senator Shaheen said.
"While I am deeply concerned about our nation's rising debt and believe Congress must look for balanced and responsible ways to reduce federal spending, I oppose the indiscriminate, automatic, across-the-board cuts to defense and non-defense spending that would be required under sequestration," Senator Collins said. "Such meat-axe cuts would negatively affect jobs around the country, including as many as 5,900 in Maine where so many workers build and repair Navy submarines and ships, advanced jet engines, and other technologies that our nation's Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines rely upon to protect our country."