Consensus may be building in Congress to halt automatic defense budget cuts, says AIA president

ARLINGTON, Va., 29 March 2012. Threatened automatic cuts in the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) budget, which would take place if Congress fails by the end of this year to make additional federal budget cuts or tax increases would hollow out our military, endanger our troops and stop economic recovery dead in its tracks, Marion C. Blakey, president and chief executives officer of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) trade group in Arlington, Va., said today.

The congressionally approved 2011 Budget Control Act calls for across-the-board defense budget cuts to begin on 1 Jan. 2013 if Congress fails to cut spending, increases taxes, or both to reign-in budget deficits. The law calls for Congress to cut defense spending by $500 billion over 10 years if lawmakers cannot reach agreement on budget targets, which looks increasingly likely.

Defense experts say automatic defense cuts, or "sequestration," could put a stop to U.S. Air Force plans for a new long-range jet bomber, a new Army tactical vehicle, and could reduce the U.S. Navy's fleet of aircraft carriers lower than the current 11 vessels.

The AIA's Blakey, in a statement released today, says a bipartisan consensus is emerging that the sequestration cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act are a cure worse than the disease.

"More deep cuts to defense investments could cost over a million jobs and create enormous economic dislocation in thousands of communities across the country just as economic recovery is finally taking root," Blakey wrote. "In addition, these cuts would cede American leadership in a host of critical technologies, allowing our enemies to close the gap in stealth flight, air defenses, unmanned vehicles and surveillance and reconnaissance."

Consensus may be building slowly in Congress to head-off sequestration and spare the DOD budget even larger cuts next year than have been proposed by the Obama Administration, Blakey says.

"Voices as diverse as International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Tom Buffenbarger and Senator Jon Kyl have spoken eloquently on this subject. Speaking in the Capitol and writing in the opinion pages today, Mr. Kyl and his colleagues Sens. Rubio, Ayotte, McCain, Graham, Cornyn, Inhofe, and Vitter powerfully sounded the alarm," Blakey says.

In remarks at RAND this morning, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith also flagged this issue - asked when the impact of budget sequestration would be felt, he said "It's now!" Blakey says.

"The sequestration hammer falls in just 278 days," Blakey points out. "In both chambers of Congress, strong efforts are underway to find a solution to this looming crisis, and we appreciate all of these efforts. But it's long past time to act."

For more information contact the AIA online at

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