February 20, 2013 at 9:13 AM
Army: 11,000 Washington state jobs at risk if Congress won’t stop military cuts
Documents obtained by USA Today give a state-by-state breakdown of the furloughs and financial impact related to the military, if Congress does not alter the current sequestration plan scheduled to take effect next month.
In terms of Army cuts, Washington state would be hit 11th-hardest hit in the nation. At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, if Congress changes nothing, a $341 million annual cut would be ordered, according to the Army. More than 11,000 jobs statewide would be affected by furloughs (of more than 200,000 nationally), a figure that the Army says includes, not only immediate civilian furloughs, but jobs related to military spending. President Barack Obama has exempted military personnel from furloughs.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress on Wednesday that if the cuts take effect in March 1, he may be compelled to furlough the “vast majority” of the Defense Department’s 800,000 civilian workers.
More from The Associated Press: Panetta also said the across-the-board spending reductions would “put us on a path toward a hollow force,” meaning a military incapable of fulfilling all of its missions.
In a written message to employees, Panetta said he notified members of Congress on Wednesday that if the White House and Congress cannot strike a deficit reduction deal before March 1 to avoid the furloughs, all affected workers will get at least 30 days’ advance notice.
The furloughs would be part of broad spending cuts the Pentagon would implement in order to achieve $46 billion in reductions through the end of this budget year, which ends Sept. 30. More cuts would come in future years as long as the automatic government spending cuts, known as sequestration, remained in effect.
In the event of sequestration we will do everything we can to be able to continue to perform our core mission of providing for the security of the United States, but there is no mistaking that the rigid nature of the cuts forced upon this department, and their scale, will result in a serious erosion of readiness across the force,” Panetta wrote.
Pentagon officials have said their furloughs would be structured so that nearly all 800,000 workers lose one day of work per week for 22 weeks, probably starting in late April. That means they would lose 20 percent of their pay over that period.
The Pentagon has begun discussing details of the furloughs with defense worker union officials.
House Speaker John Boehner put the blame on Obama and said he agrees with Panetta that automatic spending cuts would devastate the military.
Boehner released a copy of Panetta’s letter formally notifying Congress that the Pentagon will have to consider furloughing a large portion of its civilian workforce if sequestration kicks in.
The furloughs contemplated by this notice will do real harm to our national security,” Panetta wrote in his congressional notification letter, adding that it would make troops less ready for combat and slow the acquisition of important weapons.
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