Defense industry officials are warning ongoing sequestration could cost jobs in the aerospace industry. (AL.com file photo)
The defense industry has set its sights on the House/Senate budget committee in an effort to do away with the across-the-board cuts from sequestration.
The Aerospace Industries Association delivered letters to members of the bicameral budget committee earlier this week urging them to include a sequester repeal as part of any funding agreement. One of those receiving the letter was Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is the committee’s Senate minority lead.
The letter, signed by AIA Chairman Wes Bush of Northrop Grumman and Vice Chairman Mike Strianese of L-3 Communications, along with AIA President Marion Blakey, urged the committee to “address the crippling reductions caused by the sequester.”
“While we are pleased that the shutdown is over, until we achieve a broader solution, our national security and economy will remain under a cloud of uncertainty that has both short and long-term unintended – but real – consequences,” the trio wrote.
The joint House/ Senate Budget Committee held its first full meeting Wednesday with a follow-up planned for Nov. 13. The group, led by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., has a deadline of Dec. 13 to make its report on recommendations that will then go to the full House and Senate. One of those decisions will be whether to continue the sequester that has reduced many federal budgets, particularly at the Department of Defense.
The cuts, which will top $52 billion for the Pentagon next year, has forced the defense industry to “make long-term capital investment decisions through the prism of short-term triage,” the AIA letter notes. “Some large contractors have already shuttered production facilities employing thousands of workers, while many small businesses in our national supply chain are at risk of going out of business.”
A 2011 study conducted by AIA showed more than 24,600 jobs in Alabama depend on the aerospace and defense industry, many with smaller subcontractor companies. AIA, which represents more than 300 aerospace and defense companies, said the cutbacks are impacting the full range of suppliers serving the defense industry.
“Until we end sequestration, our ability to maintain and expand small businesses – which serve as the main generator of jobs – will continue to erode,” the letter said. “Even more importantly, (the sequester) negatively impact the one things that makes it all possible – our national security.”
Defense lobbyists step up efforts
The AIA letter is just part of an overall push from the defense industry to avert another round of spending cuts.
Bloomberg reports U.S. lawmakers are being barraged with phone calls, letters and visits from defense industry lobbyists.
The contractors are trying to avoid sequestration becoming a new normal for lawmakers.
“They want to counteract the perception that lower spending won’t actually endanger the nation,” Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told Bloomberg.
Towards that end, AIA drafting letters to all 50 governors to detail how many jobs in their states are tied to defense and aerospace and how sequestration would put those jobs at risk. The group also is planning a day for small business owners to come to the Capitol for a day of lobbying next month, Bloomberg reports.