October 04, 2012
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is vowing to block the Obama administration from covering the costs of contractors that might be sued for failing to notify workers of layoffs related to a potential across-the-board government cut in January.
Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, companies with more than 100 employees must provide at least 60 days notice of mass layoffs or plant closings.
Last week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated that even if the nearly $1 trillion federal budget cut takes effect Jan. 2, contracts are unlikely to be canceled on that date.
This means there would be would be enough time to notify workers of layoffs that would take place later in the year.
The administration also assured contractors that the government would help pay for legal costs if those businesses did not provide notice to their employees of layoffs due to the budget penalty known as sequestration.
After receiving the guidance, Lockheed Martin and other contractors said they would not be legally compelled to warn their employees of impending layoffs. Those warnings were set to roll out days before the presidential election, and McCain and other Republicans say the OMB guidance is politically motivated.
McCain is asking Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to estimate the cost of reimbursing contractors for legal fees, and he tells Panetta he will deny any request to transfer money to pay for the reimbursements.
“I cannot support the administration’s plan to use billions of taxpayer dollars to give defense contractors a free pass through the election,” McCain says. “In the current fiscal crisis of trillion-dollar annual deficits and crushing national debt, I cannot condone this administration’s wasteful use of taxpayer funds to buy off contractors for political gain. I can assure them that I will do everything in my power to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to compensate contractors who do not comply with the law.”