When President Obama asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling $2 trillion and offered sequestration as an offset, I opposed it. I did not believe we should put the country $2 trillion deeper in debt and impose irresponsible massive cuts to our national security.
This past week, I held two tele-townhalls to talk directly with members of our community about sequestration. It’s an issue, which has been on the minds of citizens across our country. We are just starting to feel the effects of this misguided policy. It is one, which will slowly take effect over the coming months and years. No matter the timeline, it will impact our community greatly. I voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011, which setup sequestration, because I knew we would be right where we are today - deep impacts to vital national security installations like Wright-Paterson Air Force Base, and the corresponding civilian jobs within our community and across the country.
Today, Ohio faces some of the heaviest affects from sequestration. The Air Force has stated that over 14,000 civilian employees potentially face being furloughed with this policy. This is the third largest in the nation in terms of Air Force cuts. Additionally, along with the job losses and furloughs, Department of Defense (DoD) agencies have issued a hiring freeze. This is especially painful for those who have served our nation honorably in the military or as civilian employees working to support our national security.
Over the past several years DoD and Air Force components, including Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), were directed to down size their civilian workforce. Fast forward to today, many of those same commands are being forced to make further reductions, despite previous force structure changes
Under sequestration the DoD is being forced to blindly make sweeping reductions to its civilian workforce – thereby punishing commands like AFMC that took steps to right-size their force structure. That these “good actors” are being punished for making these tough decisions reflects a policy that both rewards and further promulgates inefficiency. Sequestration is proving that bad laws make bad policies.
It is my understanding the Department of Defense is currently reviewing accounts to find additional relief from within. The outlook is becoming ever more clear that the action or rather inaction by the Department is threatening mission readiness and overall national security. I am working with my colleagues in Congress and the Department of Defense to find an alternative approach. I voted in favor and the House passed four initiatives that would ultimately replace the sequester with smarter cuts.
National security is a Constitutional responsibility that should not be put at risk by bad policy. Any reduction in the Department should be done under the guidance of a national security strategy with the utmost scrutiny. By blindly furloughing thousands of hard working civilian employees, it will hurt families and cause damage to the Department of Defense that will take years to mend.