WASHINGTON, D.C. С Rep. Rob Bishop Wednesday shared Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s concerns about the impact of sequestration, which would mean major cuts in defense spending.
Panetta’s letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, said automatic spending cuts due to start March 1 would likely result in furloughs to civilian personnel.
“If sequestration is not avoided, the magnitude of the potential reductions will damage force readiness, slow major acquisition programs, and necessitate civilian furlough action that will negatively affect our federal civilian workforce,” the letter said.
“Overall, sequestration will put us on a path toward a hollow force and inflict serious damage to our national security,” Panetta’s letter said further.
Bishop said, in a press release, that the Senate and Pres. Obama are doing nothing to stop sequestration despite bipartisan support for doing so.
“The House has taken action, not once, but twice,” he said. “We passed two bills to avoid sequestration but the Senate refused to consider them. This isn’t a blame game, it’s the truth.”
The press release also called Obama “unengaged.”
“Right now I can’t tell of a path forward, but I’m still trying to find one,” he said in an interview with the Clipper. “A bill I filed (Feb. 8) is a fast forward that would solve the problem. But getting enough support right now is the problem.”
The Kaysville native’s concern is heightened because of Hill AFB.
Not everyone would be furloughed, but there could be thousands of employees working on base who could at the least have salaries frozen or a temporary pay cut of up to 20 percent, Bishop said.
“With the budget problems, there may not be money to restore those pay cuts in a short time,” he said.
Bishop added that $1.4 trillion has already been cut from military budgets.
“It is the only area of the government that has seen any reduction,” he said. “Sequestration would be (another) $480 billion coming out on top.”
He is co-sponsoring a bill with California Rep. Buck McKeon that aims to cut another round of military cuts.
The Down Payment to Protect National Security Act aims to prevent more cuts this year above the $46 billion reduction already imposed, a fact sheet on the bill said.
The legislation would make up for one year of defense and non-defense sequestration by requiring a reduction in the federal workforce through attrition and a pay freeze for members of Congress, the information said.
The act is intended to provide $85 billion in savings, reportedly “sufficient for the first year in the Budget Control Act,” the material noted.