WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Senator Susan Collins today called for immediate action to avoid the automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts that are scheduled to take place on March 1st. During an Appropriations Committee hearing today focused on the impact of sequestration, Senator Collins said she has serious concerns that sequestration would have a profound effect on the whole federal budget and jobs around the country, including thousands of defense jobs in Maine and other vital priorities such as education funding, transportation, national security, and biomedical research.
In addition, late Wednesday, Senators Collins and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor about the devastating impact these cuts would have.
“Sequestration would cause great harm to America’s safety in a dangerous world by, for example, potentially shrinking our naval fleet to an unprecedented low level. The Pentagon could be forced to cut an additional 100,000 Army soldiers and another 18,000 Marines, more than double the cuts already planned for each service over the next five years,” said Senator Collins. “Just as devastating would be the effect of sequestration on our economy. The defense industry directly employs some 8,500 hard-working, highly skilled men and women in Maine with an annual payroll topping $550 million. I want to thank Senator Shaheen for caring so much about this issue. We are committed to seeking pragmatic solutions through compromise and to avoiding this devastation of our economy and our national security.”
According to a study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the United States stands to lose as many as 1.4 million jobs if the sequester goes into effect. Senator Collins also called for long overdue action to enact a full-year defense funding bill so the Navy can award new ship contracts, such as those for the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers that are built at Bath Iron Works.
Senators Collins and Shaheen sent a letter to Senate leadership last week calling for a bipartisan deficit reduction solution that protects jobs and national security interests. The New England senators lambasted Congress’ inaction in the present lead up to budget sequestration which could enact nearly $1 trillion in defense and non-defense spending within the federal budget. They also highlighted the severe ramifications for the workforce at many critical defense facilities, including Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Bath Iron Works.