Kaine tours Norfolk shipyard, talks about ending sequestration cuts

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by 13News and Associated Press

WVEC.com

Posted on December 2, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 2 at 7:00 PM

NORFOLK- Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) was in Norfolk Monday talking about efforts to end across-the-board sequester cuts.

According to a press release from his office, the cuts "have put the ship repair industry - and the entire Hampton Roads economy - at risk."

Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Budget Conference Committee, was at BAE Systems Ship Repair in Norfolk. He toured the yard and met with shipyard workers.

Legislation signed by the president in October keeps the government open through Jan. 15 and raises the debt limit through Feb. 7. The act contains a provision for a joint Senate-House committee to work on a budget recommendation for fiscal year 2014. Those recommendations are due Dec. 13.

The automatic spending cuts in 2014 promise to be far more painful than those experienced in the 16-day government shutdown earlier this year. The first round was no picnic, however, eroding combat readiness and grounding Air Force squadrons. Cuts in military training, maintenance and weapons purchases were deeper than average because the Pentagon was allowed to exempt military personnel accounts. The Pentagon used more than $5 billion in unspent money from previous years to ease its $39 billion budget cut. Furloughs originally scheduled for 11 days were cut back to six days.

According to the Associated Press, for the time being, Congress has frozen 2014 spending at 2013 sequestration levels while negotiators seek a budget deal that would ease some of the automatic cuts. Absent a deal, the spending "caps" on agency operating budgets will shrink by another $20 billion or so, with most of that money squeezed out of the Pentagon.

Because of $4 billion in prior-year funding, the Pentagon was able to maintain Navy and Air Force procurement in 2013. Without that money in 2014, the Pentagon will have to the delay the delivery of a new aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine.

"We are consuming tomorrow's 'seed corn' to feed today's requirements," Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"We might as well shut down the Pentagon," said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif. "You'd better hope we never have a war again."

 

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