Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree met Friday with Admiral David Lewis, the official in charge of construction programs for nearly all Naval vessels, to discuss the impacts of mandatory, across the board budget cuts on shipyards in Maine.
Michaud and Pingree pressed Lewis on the plans for repairs of the USS Miami, the submarine that was damaged in a fire at the Portsmouth NavalShipyard last year. They also expressed their support for uninterrupted construction of two lines of destroyers at Bath Iron works.
"I was pleased to hear from Admiral Lewis that despite sequestration the Navy is still hoping to be able to procure 10 DDG-51 destroyers and they are committed to maintaining the DDG-1000 program as well," Michaud said. "In the coming months, I will work with Rep. Pingree, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, to make sure the Navy has the flexibility to transfer needed funding to these programs in order to keep them on track."
Michaud and Pingree also talked to Lewis about repairs to the USS Miami.
"We pushed the Navy to agree to repair the Miami in Portsmouth after the fire, and now our job is to keep pushing them to follow through with that, despite these cuts," Pingree said. "This is just another example of why Congress has to get rid of these arbitrary cuts and replace them with a more balanced approach that doesn't jeopardize projects in places like Kittery."
Michaud and Pingree raised other issues with Lewis as well, including a concern that federal workers have about their security clearances at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery.
"Public workers in Kittery could face pay cuts of up to 20% if they are forced to take furlough days, and I've heard from plenty of families who are going to face financial hardships because of that," Pingree said. "And now they have to worry that if they start falling behind on their bills their security clearance at the yard could be effected."
"These workers shouldn't have to worry about losing their security clearances because of something that is no fault of their own," Michaud said. "They are already facing enough with mandatory unpaid furloughs and we asked Admiral Lewis tolook for a way to protect workers in this situation."
Federal security clearances can be suspended or revoked if theclearance holder is experiencing financial difficulty.