Democrat Bill Owens continued to show his weakness on defense Thursday when he voted against a plan that would have avoided defense cuts that are certain to impact the 21st Congressional District. (Roll Call #577).
 
“My opponent first voted to cut defense spending by $500 billion, which the Obama administration said Friday would have a ‘devastating impact’ on our country,” said Matt Doheny, the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties’ candidate in the 21st Congressional District. “Now, he’s refusing to stand up for our soldiers, our schools and our civilian workforce and stop cuts that will lead to 113,000 lost jobs in New York.”
                                    
Owens voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011, which the Obama administration says will force irresponsible, “blunt and indiscriminate” cuts to both defense and non-defense spending. (Roll Call #690, 8/1/11)
 
The Office of Management and Budget says the 9.4 percent cut in discretionary defense funding – coupled with a 10 percent cut in mandatory defense programs – will “result in a reduction in readiness of many non-deployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts and reductions in base services for military families.”
 
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said sequestration would result in “the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915 and the smallest Air Force in its history.”
 
Frederick Vollrath, a senior Pentagon official, has testified that these forced cuts will cause 10 percent of the 800,000-strong civilian workforce in the Department of Defense to lose their jobs. Fort Drum, in both the old 23rd Congressional District and new 21st district, has 4,600 civilian workers. If similar cuts were made, 460 local jobs could be lost.
 
In addition, the Indian River School District stands to lose $1.38 million in federal impact aid due to sequestration. Carthage Central School would lose $605,730, according to the Center for American Progress.
 
Owens has also remained silent about the Labor Department’s “guidance” to federal contracts that encouraged them to hold off on giving layoff notices, in violation of federal labor law. Contractors, both local and regional, earned $392.7 million from contracts with Fort Drum alone in fiscal year 2011.
 
“My opponent said he was ‘confident’ that these irresponsible cuts would never go into effect,” said Doheny. “Yet since the deal was struck 13 months ago, he’s voted against repeated attempts to avoid these dangerous cuts. He may not be willing to stand up for our military, our schools and our civilian workers, but I am.”