The cuts would come under sequestration, a mechanism to force automatic, across-theboard spending cuts if Congess exceeds its authorized spending limit or fails to pass the Budget Control Act of 2011.
According to a study recently released by the Center for Security Policy, current Department of Defense proposals already cut defense spending by $487 billion between fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2021.
If sequestration goes forward as planned Jan. 2, another $500 billion would be cut from the Pentagon budget between fiscal 2013 and 2021.
Virginia would be hard hit, with Northern Virginia, Newport News and Virginia Beach taking the brunt of the defense spending cuts, Perkins said.
Prince William County was not listed in the report, but with the $487 billion in cuts nationally, neighboring Loudoun, Arlington and Fairfax counties would lose roughly $1 billion in defenserelated spending between 2013 and 2021, the report showed.
With the sequestration cuts, defense spending in those counties could fall by roughly $7.2 billion between 2013 and 2021, the report showed.
Perkins said those kinds of defense spending cuts could be perilous to the economy.
“We are in one of the most dangerous periods in this country’s time right now and this is not the time to start making cuts to defense,” said Perkins, a retired U.S. Army special forces colonel. “It’s going to expose us in terms of our national defense, and it’s going to ruin our economy.”
Perkins said he thinks Congress will find a way to postpone the deadline, but warned of the consequences of inaction.
A federal law governing the treatment of some “private, for-profit employers and private, nonprofit” employees is set to kick in even before the lame duck session.
Among other things, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act of 1988, requires some companies with more than 100 employees to give those employees 60 days notice if layoffs or plant closings are imminent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.
“I have to think that there is probably no way that they’re going to get to it in the next couple of weeks. I’m hoping that they can fix it in the lame duck session, but it’s going to be too late,” Perkins said of Congress. “The WARN Act would trigger the pink slips about a week before Election Day.”
Perkins contends there will be a ripple effect if Congress allows the WARN Act to kick in.
“It’s going to put this district almost back into a recession. It’s going to affect all of the service providers — the food industry, the guy who takes in your laundry. We’re all going to feel this if this goes forward,” he said.
In August, Connolly urged Congress to forgo its summer recess and stay in session to try and forestall sequestration.
“The job loss potential, if this in fact goes into effect, is almost as great on the civilian side as it is on the defense side,” Connolly said.
This week Connolly again called for Congress to postpone the upcoming recess, which is set to begin Friday and run through the election.
“Congress shouldn’t go out on recess. Both sides of the aisle need to take action on sequestration before the November elections.” Connolly said. “This is too important for the country. We ought to stay in session and solve this problem. It’s not rocket science.”
Perkins believes the only way to save the Pentagon’s budget is to cut spending elswhere. He said he does not favor raising taxes.
“Revenues can go up via taxes as Congressman Connolly has suggested, but I personally think that would be extremely counter productive,” Perkins said.
Perkins said that if he is elected, he could possibly consider further cuts to defense spending, but favors cuts to entitlements.
“I’m happy to take a hard look at defense spending; but at the end of the day, I believe it’s right about where it should be. The cuts have got to be made, but they can’t be coming on the backs of our soldiers,” he said. “Quite frankly, that half a trillion dollars coming out of the budget already … that’s hard to swallow.”
Connolly agreed that allowing sequestration to go forward would have “devastating” effects for the state in general and Northern Virginia in particular.
“There’s no question it will affect us. A third of our economy here in Northern Virginia and in the National Capital Region is dependent directly on federal investment and spending,” Connolly said. “I’ve urged defense contractors and their employees to contact their elected officials and urge a balanced approach to solve the problem of the sequester.”
Connolly, however, disagrees with Perkins on a plan to prevent sequestration and said he would be open to all solutions including “some revenue increases along with substantial cuts.” On Thursday, Republicans in the House of Representatives — many of whom voted in favor of sequestration in 2011 — voted for the National Security Job Protection Act, which is aimed at avoiding defense cuts.
Connolly voted against the act, saying it did two things that he found objectionable.
“First, they refused to consider revenue and my position has always been it’s got to be balanced, and secondly all they do is shift all the cuts from defense to the civilian sector,” Connolly said.
According to Connolly, cuts to the private sector could do as much harm to the local economy as defense cuts would.
“We do a lot of civilian work and federal contracting here. We have a lot of civilian federal employees here. It would be devastating to Northern Virginia and I’m not going to agree to that. It has to be a balanced approach. It’s mix of revenue and spending cuts. It can’t be one or the other.”
Congress put the threat of sequestration in place after failing to reach an agreement to increase the federal debt ceiling in June.
According to the report, 22,428 Department of Defense civilian employees in Virginia could lose their jobs if sequestration takes place, and the private sector could shed 122,770 jobs in Virginia under sequestration.
This article can be read here: http://www2.insidenova.com/news/2012/sep/19/13/region-could-lose-billions-if-congress-fails-act-ar-2217263/