Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) released the following statement after meeting, along with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, with officials at the Rock Island Arsenal this morning:
"I was pleased to meet with leaders from the Rock Island Arsenal this morning to discuss current operations, the impact of the sequester, and the ways that we can protect the Arsenal, and the jobs it provides for workers across our region. I look forward to continuing fighting with Senator Durbin on behalf of the Arsenal and the entire Quad Cities region."
In addition, in case you missed it on Monday, Bustos and Congressman Dave Loebsack sent the following letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel urging the DoD to avoid any and all civilian furloughs . The release and letter are below.
Bustos & Loebsack Also Ask Department of Defense For A Budgetary Analysis That Explains Why Currently Planned Furloughs Are Necessary In First Place
Currently Planned Civilian Furloughs At Rock Island Arsenal Could Hurt Quad Cities Economy
Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02) urged the Department of Defense (DOD) to avoid making any civilian furloughs this year. In a joint letter to the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, Bustos and Loebsack reiterated their opposition to sequestration and said that while all government departments and agencies need to tighten their belts, the recent decision to furlough the civilian workforce for 14 days this fiscal year could not only have a lasting negative impact on morale, readiness, national security, and safety, but could also deal a big blow to local communities across the country, including the Quad Cities region in Illinois and Iowa, which is home to the Rock Island Arsenal.
In addition, Bustos and Loebsack asked for the budgetary analysis that explains why the currently planned furloughs are necessary and if the DOD is unable to completely eliminate furloughs, they urged DOD to communicate to Congress the requirements, flexibility, or resources that are needed to avoid furloughs and preserve military readiness.
A copy of the letter from Bustos and Loebsack is below.
The Honorable Charles T. Hagel
Secretary of Defense
100 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Hagel,
We understand that our nation faces long-term fiscal challenges, and that all government departments and agencies need to tighten their belts and look for ways to cut costs. We are deeply opposed to sequestration and continue to support replacing it with real, responsible, and balanced deficit reduction. However, we also fear that the decision by the Department of Defense (DOD) to furlough the civilian workforce for 14 days this fiscal year could not only have a lasting negative impact on morale, readiness, national security, and safety, but will also have significant economic consequences in local communities and across the country.
The recently passed Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, which became law on March 26, 2013, provided additional Operations and Maintenance funds to provide greater flexibility to DOD. That funding allowed for the recently announced reduction in furloughs, which will provide a small measure of relief. However, we remain strongly concerned that any furloughs will put families at risk of financial hardship through no fault of their own and could be a big blow to local economies throughout the country, including our region in Illinois and Iowa. They could also jeopardize security clearances, family stability, ability to meet mission requirements, and worksite safety.
We also fear that furloughs could cause long-term damage in attracting new talent into DOD. Reduction in pay, uncertainty, and hardship caused by furloughs could dissuade many well-qualified and talented individuals from pursuing DOD careers in the first place.
Again, while the recent announcement regarding the reduction in furlough days provides some measure of relief, we remain greatly concerned about the impact any furloughs will have. We urge you to make every effort and examine every avenue possible to avoid any furloughs for the remainder of FY13. We also ask for the budgetary analysis that explains why the currently planned furloughs are necessary. If the Department is unable to completely eliminate furloughs, we urge you to communicate to Congress the requirements, flexibility, or resources that are needed to avoid furloughs and preserve military readiness.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of the people who are caught in the cross-hairs of our nation's fiscal battles as you move forward.
Cheri Bustos Dave Loebsack
Member of Congress Member of Congress