Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray released the following statement after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that most of the Department of Defense’s 800,000 civilian employees will be furloughed for as many as 11 days through the end of September. This will likely include over 20,000 eligible employees in Washington state. The furloughs are a direct result of automatic budget cuts know as sequestration which Senator Murray, as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has worked to replace with a balanced mix of smart cuts and revenue from the very wealthiest Americans. Senator Murray has been blocked in her attempts to replace these cuts as well as in her attempts to bring her Senate-passed budget, which also replaces the sequester, to a conference committee. Senator Murray has recently sat down with civilian workers at military installations across the state to discuss the impact of budget cuts and furloughs.
“Unfortunately, this is the very real impact of a policy that must be changed, particularly in a state like ours that is home to thousands of military families. These furloughs will affect teachers, first responders, mechanics and so many others who are critical to serving those who serve us. These furloughs will impact tens of thousands of paychecks in our state and will hurt communities and families from the Peninsula, to Tacoma, to Spokane and in between. They are the wrong cuts, at the wrong time, and we need to replace them along with the entire sequester.
“These cuts are also yet another example of sequestration’s widely felt impact in our state. The civilian employees getting bad news today join Head Start students, medical researchers, and many of our state’s most vulnerable citizens in the long line of those whose lives and work are being negatively impacted by these indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts. These are the people that I’m continually pushing Republicans in Congress to recognize as I fight to replace the sequester with a mix of sensible cuts and revenue from the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. Unfortunately, to date, Republicans have been more focused on politics and lurching from crisis to crisis than on compromising to find a comprehensive and balanced solution to sequestration.
“I’m going to continue working to find common-ground in an effort to end the growing pain of sequestration by replacing it with responsible and sustainable deficit reduction, because doing nothing is not an option. Left unaddressed, these senseless cuts will continue to undermine our state’s security, economy and competitiveness for decades to come.”