The biggest defense industry trade group, the Aerospace Industries Association, urged lawmakers to work toward a long-term solution.
“If sequestration is not solved in the next 57 days, it would be an abdication of responsibility by the leaders of this country, one that will only heighten Americans’ cynicism and cement the public image of a gridlocked Washington that simply doesn’t work,” said the group’s president, Marion Blakey.
Lockheed and other big arms manufacturers including Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp have complained about the difficulty of running their businesses while facing the potential indiscriminate, automatic spending cuts.
Northrop Grumman shares closed 0.9 percent higher on Wednesday while Boeing advanced 2.3 percent. General Dynamics Corp, which won several large shipbuilding orders last month, closed 2.8 percent higher.
The U.S. unit of Britain’s BAE Systems said the uncertainty had “made it virtually impossible to plan near and long-term business decisions” and urged Congress to find a balanced, long-term solution before the March deadline.
The cuts are setting up to be even more painful if lawmakers don’t agree on an alternative by March 27, since they would have to be squeezed into a shorter period.
President Barack Obama has excluded uniformed military personnel from being hit by the spending cuts, but some of the department’s 800,000 civilians could face up to four weeks of furloughs, or unpaid leave.
If the Pentagon must implement cuts after the March deadline, hundreds of thousands of employees may be forced to take up to a month of leave within just four months, which could create significant disruption of Defense Department operations.
Pentagon spokesman George Little could not specify how many civilians might be furloughed if the cuts were implemented, but he declined to rule out the possibility that virtually all 800,000 might have to take at least some unpaid leave.