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Letter to President Obama, Collins, King Call on President and Congress to Reach Agreement to Avert Sequester, Reduce Debt

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

In a letter sent to President Barack Obama today, Senators Susan Collins and Angus King call on the President to convene a meeting with Congressional leaders that must conclude with an agreement to avert sequestration and reduce our national debt.

The text of the letter is below.

February 20, 2013

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Unless our nation's leaders can come together on a plan to stave off
sequestration, on March 1, 2013, $85 billion in automatic, indiscriminate
spending cuts will go into effect for the remainder of this fiscal year- cuts
that, as you are well aware, will have a devastating impact on our national
security and our fragile economic recovery.

If sequestration goes into effect or a year-long fiscal year 2013
Department of Defense funding bill is not passed, the effects will be
devastating to our national security and defense industrial base as Secretary
of Defense Panetta and the service chiefs have repeatedly warned. The
combination of sequestration and a long-term Continuing Resolution would
effectively eliminate the prospect of a 10-ship DDG-51 multi-year procurement that would deliver the bare minimum numbers of multi-mission major surface combatants to support your revised defense strategy and preserve competition in the large surface combatant shipbuilding industry and its 16,000 domestic jobs. Failure to avert such an outcome could have severe ramifications for our nation's shipbuilding industrial base, including Bath Iron Works in Maine, the nation's premier shipbuilder and employer of more than 5,000 workers.

The threat of sequestration is already having an effect on our
economy. In the last economic quarter, defense spending decreased by an
astonishing 22 percent annual rate, which the Council of Economic Advisers
attributed to the looming sequestration deadline. Additionally, a
separate Aerospace Industries Association report found that a full year of
sequestration would result in the loss of approximately two million defense and non-defense jobs. For example, at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the Navy is prepared to cut the pay of its civilian workforce by 20 percent, the result of a 22-day furlough, and to defer or cancel critical repairs to the USS MIAMI submarine. These jobs are not just a count of government billets, a
macroeconomic statistic, or an unemployment rate fluctuation. These jobs
provide financial security for our constituents and health insurance for their
families. These are the Americans facing the uncertainty and consequences
of inaction to reach a deal.

We write today to express our specific commitment to a bipartisan and
long-term deficit reduction solution to avoid damage to our national security, important domestic priorities, and our economy. It will require scrutiny and decreases in spending across all areas, including non-defense and defense discretionary and mandatory, as well as comprehensive tax reform.

Less than two weeks remain before sequestration cuts go into effect, but
there is still time for a better approach. We want to express our support for
the following principles and make one request of you:

Congress and the President must work together to avoid
sequester and make the tough choices necessary for our country's future.

Failure to avert sequester will have a devastating impact
on our military and our defense readiness.

The meat-ax style spending cuts that are set to take
effect on March 1 are an irresponsible way to address our nation's debt and
federal deficit, and they would not solve our country's long-term fiscal
challenges.

Congress and the President must work together to enact a
full-year fiscal year 2013 Department of Defense spending bill rather than
allowing a Continuing Resolution for the remainder of the year.

Urgency and resolve are critical. We urge the
President to convene a meeting, as soon as possible, with Congressional leaders to conclude an agreement to avert sequestration and set our nation on a sound fiscal path that both recognizes priorities and reduces our unsustainable $16.4 trillion debt. On behalf of our constituents, we ask for your commitment to act, and we thank you for your service to our nation.

Sincerely,

SUSAN M. COLLINS
United States Senator

ANGUS S. KING
United States Senator


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