June 27, 2012
Credit: Credit: Architect of the Capitol
Senator Kelly Ayotte, a top contender for a vice presidential post with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, on Tuesday urged Congress to act quickly to avert an additional $500 billion in devastating defense budget cuts.
Ayotte, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said lawmakers could not wait to resolve the issue until after the 2012 presidential election since defense contractors must start warning hundreds of thousands of workers about possible layoffs as early as October.
The New Hampshire senator said the layoff notices, required under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN) that took effect in 1989, could help galvanize U.S. lawmakers into action.
“I wouldn’t want to be ... up for reelection in a district with thousands of WARN act notices coming out right before my election when as a member of Congress I didn’t take the responsibility to resolve this,” she told an event hosted by TechAmerica, a group that represents U.S. technology companies.
She said possible job losses could also be a “sleeper issue” in the presidential election.
Ayotte said the additional cuts, which would come on top of $487 billion in cuts already being implemented by the Pentagon over the next decade, would undermine U.S. national security and have a devastating impact on the defense industrial base.
Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s largest supplier, and other big weapons makers say uncertainty about the cuts is already spurring layoffs and plant closings.
The National Association of Manufacturers last week released a new report which said the automatic budget cuts would knock about 1 percent off U.S. gross domestic product by 2014 and could result in the loss of 1 million jobs.
Ayotte also cited concern about the effect the threatened additional budget cuts would have on smaller firms that supply components to big defense contractors, many of which build just a single component for weapons systems.