Ohio Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) was at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Monday. He was there to talk about ongoing operations at the base, and how Friday’s looming sequestration cuts might affect Wright-Patt.
Portman said the President’s proposed $85 billion dollars in across-the-board spending cuts over the next 7 months would be detrimental to national defense and what he called ‘the federal government’s vital operations.
Portman said, "It takes too many of the cuts out of defense, and it’s all on the discretionary side, and half of it out of defense. So fifteen percent of the budget is taking half the cuts. So it should be broadly spread throughout government, and the President and the Congress have talked about that. And this week is an opportunity to do that, to find savings so that we are meeting the goals that the President and the Congress set a year and a half ago." He added, "We have historic debts and deficits, we need to meet the goals and do it in a much smarter way."
The republican senator also said he wants the Department of Defense to have more discretion in where those cuts may fall, and he's hopeful that Congress and the President can come to an agreement this week.
“There is about a 30 day window even after it’s in effect before it’s implemented, uh, for the civilian workers here, this will probably hit them in mid to late April. So, there is more time here, but we’ve got to move quickly to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Following Portman’s press conference, Col. Cassie Barlow, told reporters the cuts are expected to force unpaid leave for almost all the base's 13,000 civilian workers.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said most of the military's 800,000 civilian workers could be forced to take unpaid leave.
The Obama administration says about 26,000 of the military's civilian employees in Ohio would be furloughed, reducing total wages by about $161 million.