Shaheen Highlights Opposition to Administration’s Base Realignment and Closure Proposal at Armed Services Subcommittee Hearing

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard 3

Shaheen: White House BRAC Proposal Would Weaken National Security, New Hampshire Economy

(Washington, DC) – Citing the proposal’s potential impact on national security and New Hampshire’s economy, this morning U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reiterated her strong opposition to the White House’s request for a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2017.  While chairing the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support this morning, Shaheen also highlighted the Defense Department’s failure to explain the cost of the last BRAC round as another reason to avoid another round in 2017; according to nonpartisan experts, the 2005 BRAC round exceeded initial cost estimates by $14 billion.  The administration’s BRAC proposal could prove to be particularly consequential for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard which is home to thousands of New Hampshire jobs.

“Our national security, our shipyard, and our economy in New Hampshire would suffer if we had another round of base closures at this time,” said Shaheen after the hearing. “I’ll do everything in my power as Chair of the Readiness Subcommittee to oppose the Administration’s BRAC proposal.”

In written testimony submitted for the committee’s record, Shaheen also added, “I do not believe the Department has adequately explained how the significant cost growth we saw in the 2005 BRAC round would be avoided this time around or made sufficient progress in reducing infrastructure overseas, particularly in Europe.”

As Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Shaheen, along with the subcommittee’s ranking member Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), have jurisdiction over BRAC proposals in addition to military readiness responsibilities including training, logistics, military construction, and maintenance.

Bipartisan Spending Bill Will Promote Economic Growth, Includes Key NH Measures

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Bill to fund government restores COLA funding for disabled veterans, includes $75 million for fishery disaster relief, investments in Shipyard

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today that the bipartisan appropriations bill unveiled last night will both promote economic growth and include many key measures she has championed in recent months. The legislation will specifically keep the government funded through Fiscal Year 2014, repeal many of the reckless sequester budget cuts, and promote job creation and economic growth.

The bill builds on the bipartisan budget agreement passed in December and makes investments in many New Hampshire priorities, including:

  • Disaster relief funding for New England fisherman
  • A fix to a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for disabled veterans
  • Military construction resources for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
  • Resources to complete the activation of the Federal Corrections Institution (FCI) in Berlin
  • Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The legislation also rolls back wasteful spending including taxpayer funded expenditures on oil paintings of public officials. Senators Shaheen and Tom Coburn (R-OK) drew attention to this waste of taxpayer dollars by introducing bipartisan legislation last year designed to cut these expenditures. The legislation also requires all federal agencies to become better stewards of taxpayer dollars by implementing mandatory 10 percent cuts to overhead costs and by investing in Inspectors General offices as Shaheen has fought for. This effort will help agencies better identify waste and cut spending through audits and oversight.

“This bipartisan appropriations bill makes strategic investments in our economy that will help create jobs while also preventing another government shutdown and repealing some of the sequester cuts that hurt economic growth,” Shaheen said. “Now we have to keep up the bipartisan momentum to pass this bill and additional job-creating measures.”

The appropriations bill, negotiated by the House and Senate, includes a partial fix to COLA adjustments in order to protect disabled veterans. Last month Shaheen introduced the Military Retirement Restoration Act to protect all future military retirees from the COLA cuts passed in a bipartisan budget agreement in December. Shaheen’s legislation would restore the cuts and replace the savings by eliminating a tax loophole for American corporations that use offshore tax havens, a move that would generate an estimated $6.6 billion in savings.

“This bill also takes a good step toward correcting the cuts to military retiree benefits,” Shaheen said. “I hope we can continue in this direction and vote on my plan to restore all of the adjustments as soon as possible on behalf of the people who have served our country.”

The funding package also invests in New Hampshire defense priorities, authorizing $1.6 billion toward the continued development of the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker to be based at Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire as well as $11.5 million for new military construction at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. In addition, the bill funds the Beyond Yellow Ribbon Program, which connects servicemen and women and their families with community support, training, and other services, at $13 million. Also included in the package is funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which will help modernize the way the U.S. meets challenges posed by the spread of weapons of mass destruction, at $500 million.

“New Hampshire plays an important role in our national defense and this bill rightfully makes strategic investments to support our shipyard, our economy, and our men and women in uniform,” said Shaheen, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.

Additional measures included in the funding bill are $75 million toward fishery disaster relief, $3.425 billion for LIHEAP, and $6.9 billion to the Bureau of Prisons, which is sufficient to complete the activation of the Berlin Prison that is expected to create 340 local jobs and provide a $40 million economic boost to Northern New Hampshire.

Shaheen has repeatedly advocated for Congress to support New Hampshire fishermen and other states affected by declining fish populations and consequent economic losses by authorizing disaster relief.

“Fishing is one of our state’s oldest industries and remains a critical engine of our economy,” said Shaheen. “The resources in this bill will provide necessary support for fishermen and coastal communities who are struggling during difficult times.”

Funding for LIHEAP in this bill is a $169 million increase from FY 2013 levels, for a total of $3.425 billion. The program helps seniors and low income households in New Hampshire with home heating costs and has become particularly critical in recent years as the struggling U.S. economy and high energy prices and reduced LIHEAP funding have forced more Americans to go without this critical assistance. Shaheen has been a strong supporter of LIHEAP throughout her time in the Senate and was recently part of a successful bipartisan effort to encourage Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to expedite the release of LIHEAP funds, allowing those in need to receive assistance as soon as possible.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Meets with Paul O’Connor (Shipyard Metal Trades Council) to Discuss Continuing Effects of Sequestration

Submarine enroute to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

This afternoon, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) met with Paul O’Connor, President of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council, to discuss the destructive effects of sequestration and the need for Congress to replace these reckless cuts with a responsible budget.

March 21, 2013 rally at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Rally against Sequestration on March 21, 2013 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

“Our shipyard will not survive another 9 ½ years of sequestration” O’Connor told Shea-Porter during their meeting in her Washington D.C. office. “Sequestration was never intended to be a sensible budget cutting device. It was a scheme of cuts so damaging that Congress would be forced to work together to avoid them. This is a bad law and it must end.”

Workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are among the roughly 650,000 U.S. Department of Defense employees who experienced up to 11 days of unpaid furloughs between July and September, suddenly reducing their income by 20 percent for the duration of the furloughs.

“I cannot stress this enough, Congress must pass a responsible budget that creates jobs and eliminates sequestration,” Shea-Porter said. “The men and women at the Shipyard are essential to our national defense and contribute $660 million to the region’s economy. Continuing the cuts of sequestration is unfair to these men and women, and it is a deeply misguided approach.”

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, sequestration will cost our economy up to 1.6 million jobs through 2014. According to a George Mason University study, the economic impact in New Hampshire is estimated to be $468 million in 2013.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter did not vote for sequestration and she spoke out against these indiscriminate cuts even before she was sworn into the 113th Congress. Since then, she has consistently spoken out in opposition to sequestration’s reckless cuts.

Federal Workers Get A Promise To EVENTUALLY Get Paid As The HOUSE Goes Into Recess

Congress West Front

Today in the U.S. House, Representatives voted to provide back pay to all furloughed federal employees when the shutdown ends.  The Hill broke the news; “members approved the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, H.R. 3223, in a 407-0 vote.”

This is great news for furloughed federal workers who can rest a little easier knowing that eventually they will get their pay back.

NH Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter was a co-sponsor of the bill.  Porter’s district includes the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where over 4000 workers were forced into furlough by the shutdown.  These are the same DOD workers were forced to take unpaid furlough days last year due to the ‘Sequester’ cuts.

“I was proud to cosponsor this legislation to ensure workers are not unfairly punished due to Washington gridlock, and I’m glad the House passed it,” Shea-Porter said. “But this bill does not address the urgent need for Congress to do its job and reopen the full federal government. It’s time to put aside partisan politics and allow a vote on a clean funding bill that has bipartisan support and would put people back to work.”

NH Congresswoman Annie Kuster sent out this statement shortly after the vote.

“Hard working federal employees shouldn’t lose their pay because of gridlock in Congress, and this common sense bill will ensure that they don’t. Now it’s time for Speaker Boehner to let us vote on a bill to fully end the shutdown and restore services for New Hampshire families.”

This bill pays workers what is owed to them only AFTER the government reopens.  The question is when will the shutdown end?  The House has moved into recess to allow members to go home for the weekend.

Some Representatives in the House we not happy with this decision to go into recess.  Rep Shea-Porter spoke out against the recess!  In a short one-minute speech on the House floor, Shea-Porter said:

“Now I find out that we [the House of Representatives] are going home. Speaker Boehner has decided that Congress will go home tomorrow. How can we possibly go home? 

“There are people [in New Hampshire] who are not being paid. People here who are not being paid; police were not paid who work here every day. Across this country people are not receiving what they paid for, and we’re going home? 

“I’m embarrassed about this. We should stay here. And if they can’t agree to accept the fact that they lost the vote on the health care law, again and again, if they can’t agree to that, can they at least agree to work on jobs? There’s plenty of work to do in this country. And we have no right to go home until we get this job done.”

This is what every single legislator in Washington should be saying until they reopen the government.  Even though they will be eventually get paid that could mean weeks or months without a paycheck.  What are they supposed to eat until the government reopens?

Congress should stay in Washington, and stay in session until they resolve this shutdown.  Working families throughout the country are depending on them to fix this situation before they end up missing paychecks.

The actual federal workers are not the only ones being harmed by this shutdown. Melissa Roseboro is a federal contract worker at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  As a contractor there is still question as to whether she will be given any type of back pay.  Roseboro, along with many other low-wage federal contract workers spoke out against this shutdown in a sit-in at Speaker Boehner’s office.

“As it is, I am barely able to pay my rent and put food on the table with what I make at McDonald’s in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.”

“I am forced to rely on public assistance to get by.  But this shutdown is making it impossible for me to even scrape by. Every day the government is shut down is another day I don’t have any money to feed my family. So we are here to ask House Republicans, who continue to get paid while playing politics with my job and my wages, to help us pay our bills.  My rent was due yesterday. It’s not right, and I need Congress to end this shutdown and let us work.”

People need to get back to work so they can earn a paycheck and pay their bills.  Speaker Boehner has to power to end this shutdown.  All he has to do is call for a vote on a clean continuing resolution. A clean CR definitely has the numbers to pass.  It just has to be called for a vote by Speaker Boehner.

Workers At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard And All Civilian DOD Employees Get Furloughs Reduced

Submarine enroute to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Submarine enroute to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Submarine enroute to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Today some good news came from Washington.  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that civilian DOD employees would only be forced to endure six days of furlough.  The furloughs have been shaved down from the originally proposed 22 to 11, and now down to six.

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement:

“AFGE has argued from the start that the Department of Defense furloughs were always the worst possible way for the department to absorb sequestration’s cuts. The secretary’s announcement suggests that he has finally realized that furloughs are costly in terms of dollars, readiness, and morale.

“The administration is finally listening to our AFGE activists, who have been flooding the White House and congressional offices with stories of personal hardship and the ways in which furloughs have undermined military readiness.

“The terrible economic harm and injustice that has already been done to the 650,000 DoD civilians who should have never been furloughed has yet to be addressed. I am calling on Secretary Hagel to take immediate action to reimburse the furloughed employees for the six days of income they have lost.

“The hardworking men and women who support our military were exploited by Pentagon officials to send a political message to Congress about sequestration. Now that these same officials have admitted that the furlough was unnecessary, the only fair thing to do is to make full financial restitution to the employees who were harmed.”

This is great news for the hard-working men and women at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has been fighting against the Sequester from the beginning.  She has gone to bat for the workers in her district, specifically those at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter released this statement:

“Today’s announcement is welcome news for thousands of hardworking families, but it is not an excuse for Congressional inaction.

“Sequestration’s irrational and reckless cuts hurt our economy and limit job growth. Congress must replace sequestration with a responsible budget that reduces the deficit and increases middle class security. Only this will set our country on a path towards strong economic growth. Sequestration is not the answer.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster had this to say after the announcement:

“This decision to cut furloughs nearly in half will help thousands of families around New Hampshire and across the country, but it’s only the first step,” Kuster said. “This is a good example of people working together for the good of the country. Now, Republicans and Democrats need to come together and finish the job by finding a balanced, bipartisan solution to the automatic spending cuts that continue to harm our families and undermine our economy.”

Since taking office, Kuster has repeatedly called on Congress to replace these mindless, across-the-board cuts with a balanced plan to reduce the deficit, grow the economy, and help create jobs. Earlier this year, Kuster wrote an op-ed highlighting the damaging impacts the cuts would have on families and businesses in New Hampshire. She has spoken out against the cuts during recent visits to the Nashua Airport Tower and the Windham Senior Center, among others, and she has cosponsored common sense, bipartisan legislation like the Government Waste Reduction Act that would cut wasteful spending and help reduce the deficit while protecting seniors and middle class families.


The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia
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Shea-Porter Listens to Constituents, Discusses Standing Up for Middle Class During Town Hall

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PORTSMOUTH, NH – Today, at a Town Hall on the Seacoast, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter listened and answered questions about ending sequestration, standing up for workers in Washington, and keeping the American dream alive for New Hampshire families. See below for highlights.

Growing New Hampshire’s Middle Class: “I have the responsibility to represent the district, to speak up for them, to speak up for the middle class, and I am more committed than ever to protecting them from some really awful legislation, like the sequester.”

“I love the district…I come from the middle class. This is where I’m from. And I know the stories here, and I know my neighbors’ stories, and it just gives me the courage to go down there, especially when you see so much that’s just wrong.”

Keeping College Affordable: “I worked my way through college. I worked in factories and other jobs and I also took out student loans, so I know what it feels like. I’m particularly concerned with what’s happening right now with [student loan] interest rates.”

“I think the interest rates should be much lower and I think we really need to be looking at these schools to figure out why they have these enormous jumps in costs each year, and to try to slow that down.”

“I feel more encouraged now than a year or two ago that at least society is noticing, and legislators are noticing, that this debt is just enormous. And it is hurting our economy, because if graduates are just paying off their student debt, they’re not buying their first home, they’re not buying their first car, they’re not able to settle in and become consumers, and remember, 70% of our economy is consumer-driven. We need people to be able to engage in our economy, so [student debt] is a huge problem.”

Sequestration: “Already the Manchester Meals on Wheels has seen cutbacks. The Newmarket Head Start has seen cuts. We’ve seen furloughs at the shipyard. When people don’t go to work, when they don’t have full pay, then they have to make tough economic decisions, and that impacts small businesses in New Hampshire. There’s really a ripple effect [from sequestration].”

The Economy: “It’s improving, but not fast enough. I was looking at a USA Today article talking about how [the economy] has been steady, not a huge improvement, but a steady improvement, and we have had more than 40 months of steady job growth. I was in Congress at the time when the big banks caused the great collapse, and we were very close to a depression…The unemployment rate of New Hampshire is about 5.5 or 5.6%, smaller than the rest of the country, at 7.6%. That’s too big.”

On Middle Class Tax Fairness: “We need a tax system that will be fairer to the middle class and that will end a lot of the subsidies and tax breaks that we see.”

“Americans struggling to pay their bills are looking around saying ‘How come Facebook isn’t paying any federal income tax? How come corporations can take their money offshore? How come the middle class is taking a hit?’”

Washington Partisanship: “I feel like [Congress is] a car without a driver. We just heard Speaker Boehner say that he is not the leader, he’s the facilitator, and that he’s letting the House work its will. The problem with the House working its will is that there are all kinds of will.”

“We really have three political parties right now. We have the Democrats, we have the traditional Republicans…and then we have the Tea-Party.”

“I actually feel sorry for Speaker Boehner because I think that he would like to work with [the Democrats], but he is prevented from doing so because of the far-right part of the party which has held back the Republican Party.”

NSA: “I absolutely agree that the NSA has overstepped and I was one of the people who voted for the Amash Amendment and I’ve done a number of things to protect people. [The Amash Amendment] really was a way to hold the NSA accountable, to provide more transparency, and to keep them from spying on all Americans who have done nothing wrong.”

“I’m a very big privacy advocate and I always have been…We need to balance the safety of this country and also our civil liberties.”

Working with the New Hampshire Delegation: “We’re all very thrilled that we’re going to have the KC46A Tankers and we see work moving forward on the Sarah Long Bridge. So there’s a lot of things we can work together on in a bipartisan manner.”

Affordable Care Act: “Washington Republicans have voted [almost] 40 times now in the House to stop the Affordable Care Act, which is a lot. First they tried to block it, and now they are trying to block implementation by blocking funding…I would like to point out that we haven’t had a single jobs bill that we could vote for. Nothing. It’s just repeatedly voting to interrupt, interfere, and cancel the Affordable Care Act, so it’s difficult to watch.”

“I can’t understand why they would work so hard to keep somebody from being able to treat their diabetes or make sure their child gets treatment from Asthma. I just don’t get it.”

House Farm Bill: “USA Today wrote that the amount of money, subsidies and gifts that they [the House Majority] gave to agriculture corporations is embarrassing. It makes the Republican claim to be fiscally responsible look absolutely ridiculous.”

Campaign Finance Reform: “I don’t take business PAC money and I don’t take DC lobbyists’ money and I’m working very hard for campaign finance reform because I think that we could get a better campaign here and elsewhere.

“Everything could change today if we had campaign finance reform; if we stop allowing members of Congress to get big checks from these multi-national corporations.”

This was Shea-Porter’s third town hall since January. In April, she hosted a town hall to discuss the future of Great Bay. In June, she held a business town hall with workers at Titeflex Aerospace in Laconia. She’s also held small business and veterans open houses in Manchester and Rochester to discuss challenges facing those groups.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Fights Against Shipyard Furloughs

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Congresswoman asks Pentagon for answers on exemptions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, at a briefing on the impacts of Department of Defense furloughs, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter addressed the concerns of the 1,300 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who have been furloughed and will lose 11 days of work this fiscal year due to federal budget cuts under sequestration. Shea-Porter asked Under Secretary of Defense, Comptroller, Robert Hale why the Department of Defense is still furloughing workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard after Secretary Hagel explicitly directed that these workers be exempt.

On May 14, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated in a memorandum that “employees in Navy shipyards will be exempted from furlough because it would be particularly difficult to make up delays in maintenance work on nuclear vessels and these vessels are critical to mission success.” After Hagel’s decision, most workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were granted exemptions, but 1,300 others were still furloughed.

In response to Shea-Porter’s question, Mr. Hale stated that he did not know exactly why some Shipyard workers were furloughed, and promised to get back to her with an answer.

Shea-Porter said that she is hopeful that all workers at the Shipyard will be given exemptions.

“All Shipyard workers deserve to be paid in full and my goal is to work with the Department of Defense to ensure that every Shipyard worker is treated equally and exempted equally,” Shea-Porter said. “The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is a team. It should not be split up because the whole team is essential to their mission.”

As of March 1, 2013, when sequestration went into effect, the Department of Defense’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2013) was reduced by $37 billion, including $20 billion in Operations and Maintenance (O&M) accounts that fund the civilian workforce. Because of this cut, the Department of Defense furloughed 680,000 of its civilian employees. These furloughs began on July 8, 2013.

Sen. Martha Fuller Clark calls on US DOT to support bridge and wharf projects

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The Portsmouth Democrat asks the Obama Administration to help defray projects’ costs

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard 3(Portsmouth, New Hampshire) Senator Martha Fuller Clark today released copies of letters she has sent in support of two transportation projects vital to the economic health of New Hampshire’s Seacoast. The letters, both addressed to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, ask for Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER ) Discretionary Grant money to be applied to expanding and upgrading the main wharf at Portsmouth’s port facility  at and for a new rail line needed to connect Portsmouth with the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

“These projects are essential to maintain and strengthen the economy on both sides of the Piscataqua River. Sen. Clark said. “Clearly the federal government should support these grants because of the significant role that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which employs 5000 people, plays in servicing our nuclear submarines and in the economy of the Seacoast.”

“Senator Clark has worked with us from the beginning,” said Pease Director of Ports and Harbors Geno Marconi. “She chaired a Ad-Hoc Study Committee for the PDA which stated as one of the conclusions that the Wharf should be expanded.”

The main wharf at the port facility is a key component of New Hampshire’s only general cargo, public access, deep water marine terminal. The TIGER grant, applied for by the Pease Development Authority Division of Ports and Harbors, would inject $11,223,788 into the project. The resulting improvements will enhance services to large ocean-going freight carriers.

The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge is 73 years old and has played a central role in the Seacoast’s economic life since the beginning of the Second World War. The grant, jointly requested by Maine and New Hampshire would provide $25 million for the construction of a new railway line as part of the bridge replacement project that is crucial to Naval Yard’s continued viability.

According to Undersecretary of Transportation for Policy Polly Trottenberg, the deadline for these TIGER discretionary grant applications was June 3rd with final determinations to be made early in the Fall.

As NH Civilian Workers Face Furloughs, Shea-Porter Calls on Congress to Replace Sequestration

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Over 1,500 NH workers face up to 11 days of unpaid furloughs; economic loss is estimated at $3 million

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Rep. Carol Shea-Porter

PORTSMOUTH, NH – This week, 1,300 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) and 229 civilian technicians at Pease Air National Guard Base will join the growing list of Americans who are being punished as a result of Congress’ failure to replace the arbitrary cuts of sequestration with a balanced plan that reduces the deficit and grows our economy.

“I am extremely frustrated and disappointed that furloughs are underway at the Shipyard, Pease, and across New Hampshire in spite of the critical work being done by the hardworking men and women of our state,” Rep. Carol Shea-Porter said. “New Hampshire families are being hurt by an unnecessary pay cut because Speaker Boehner refuses to bring a responsible deficit reduction plan up for a vote. I urge every member of Congress, regardless of party, to put aside political differences and consider the effects sequestration is having on our country’s national security, our economy, and middle class families. We need to work together to replace sequestration with a plan that creates jobs, invests in infrastructure and innovation, and pays down our deficit in a balanced way.”

Workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are among the roughly 650,000 U.S. Department of Defense employees facing up to 11 days of unpaid furloughs, suddenly reducing their income by 20 percent for the duration of the furloughs. This will result in a national economic impact of more than $2.04 billion. In New Hampshire, the economic loss is estimated at around $3 million.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter did not vote for sequestration and she spoke out against these indiscriminate cuts even before she was sworn into the 113th Congress. Since then, she has consistently spoken out in opposition to sequestration’s reckless cuts.

On February 5, she sent a letter to Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi requesting immediate action to address sequestration. In the letter, she said: “I am writing to you to express my concern that Congress has not yet dealt with the threat to our economy and national defense posed by the automatic sequestration cuts that were passed by the 112th Congress. These cuts, enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, are irresponsible and arbitrary, and would place a crippling burden on many critical departments and agencies in the federal government. In New Hampshire, we are already seeing the threat posed by sequestration as the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has begun to take steps to prepare for it.”

On March 3, she cosponsored the Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Act, legislation that would eliminate the sequester for calendar year 2013 entirely while reducing the deficit by more than the amount of the scheduled across-the-board spending cuts. It makes specific policy choices that reduce the deficit in a balanced way, with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases.

On March 8, she submitted a statement to the House Budget Committee about the effects of sequestration on New Hampshire, specifically highlighting the importance of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to the region’s economy and our nation’s national defense.

On March 12, she cosponsored H.R. 900, the Cancel the Sequester Act of 2013, a one-sentence bill that would repeal the section of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that created sequestration.

On March 21, she expressed her solidarity with Shipyard workers after they rallied against sequestration. She said, “I stand with local workers and businesses in opposition to sequestration’s irresponsible and reckless cuts.”

On March 25, she toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and discussed the impact of sequestration with workers and Navy leaders. After the tour, she held a press conference with Paul O’Connor, President of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council, and Shipyard workers to denounce the harm of sequestration.

On March 28, she toured Pease to discuss her fight against sequestration, gather information about its on-the-ground impact, and push for the KC-46A tanker.

On June 3, she cosponsored H.R. 2060, the Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Through 2014 Act. The legislation would completely replace the across-the-board cuts through fiscal year 2014, while calling for a balanced solution to stop the full multi-year sequester.

On June 20, she signed a discharge petition requiring the House to work with the Senate to produce a final budget compromise.

On June 21, she led a group of 21 Representatives in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting that Federal TRIO Programs be protected from further cuts under sequestration in Fiscal Year 2014.

On July 8, she joined members of the Maine and New Hampshire congressional delegations in hosting General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and visited PNSY and Pease to discuss furloughs caused by sequestration.

“From the Seacoast to the North Country, sequestration not only inflicts irrational cuts on education, health, and national security priorities, but it punishes hard-working families and hampers our economic recovery,” Shea-Porter concluded. “For the health of our economy and our middle class, Congress must act to replace these indiscriminate cuts with a responsible plan that will help, not hurt, our economic recovery.”

14 Days of Furlough Is Better Than 22, But It Is No Win

US_Capitol_by_DBKing_Flikr

US_Capitol_by_DBKing_FlikrYesterday it was announced that the Department of Defense would reduce the number of forced furloughs for DOD civilian employees from 22 days (one month over the next six) to 14 workdays.

“Most Defense Department civilians can expect 14 furlough days this year instead of the previously planned 22 days, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed Thursday, adding that the department needs additional flexibility to respond to across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration.”
(GovExec.com)

This is somewhat good news for the over 5000 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who have been fighting back against the mandatory sequester cuts.

Giving workers almost two work weeks of pay back, or in other words not taking two weeks worth of pay is good, however it should not be called a win.  The fact that the DOD is going to take another three weeks of pay from these men and women is a shame.

“Federal employee unions were not buying into the Hagel’s reasoning. Defense is not taking full advantage of the added flexibility and “needs to eliminate furloughs entirely,” the American Federation of Government Employees said in a statement Thursday.”

“The department’s leaders have always had the flexibility to impose budget cuts from sequestration in any way they chose,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. stated. “Although reducing the number of furlough days from 22 to 14 shows that they’re listening, they still haven’t gotten the whole message.”
(GovExec.com) (see full release from AFGE)

We need to continue to push our elected Congressional Representatives and U.S. Senators to pass a budget that will eliminate all of the furloughs throughout the government.  The Sequester has already begun and companies have already started to shed workers due to these cuts.  For federal employees there is still time to fix this problem before real harm is done to these middle class families.  Most of the furloughs will not take effect until the second week of April.  This means that Congress could come back from their vacation (recess) and do what they are elected to do.  Pass a budget to remove the sequester cuts, and keep the federal government open for business.

John Joyal a worker at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, NH summed it up completely at a rally to cancel the cuts last week.  He said:

The men and women at that shipyard over there – every single day, they put their politics aside, their gender aside, their religion aside, their ideological beliefs aside, you name it, they put everything aside to go perform the people’s business.

“That flag right there does not belong to the right-wing of the GOP of our Congress, that flag belongs to the American people. What the US Congress needs to do is, they need to grow up, put their differences aside, go into a room and perform the people’s business just like the people on this island do, every single day.

(Video of John Joyal’s speech, a must watch)