WASHINGTON – A draft Defense spending bill released by House leadership would harm military readiness and national security by cutting funding for civilian employees and climate change initiatives and imposing partisan restrictions on how the Pentagon manages its workforce, the nation’s largest federal employee union said today.
The draft appropriations bill funding the Department of Defense for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 would cut $1.1 billion from civilian personnel who are vital to military operations and another $714.8 million in programs targeting climate change, which the Pentagon has identified as a critical national security issue.
The bill removes a section from previously passed bills that prohibits across-the-board caps in civilian personnel and requires DoD to analyze the impact on military readiness, force structure, workload, lethality, stress on the force, and fully burdened costs before downsizing the civilian workforce. It also would limit how Pentagon leaders can manage their workforces by imposing restrictions on diversity initiatives, paid leave for service members obtaining reproductive health care, and a host of other issues that impact military readiness.
“The indiscriminate spending cuts and personnel restrictions proposed in this bill would weaken our military readiness and threaten national security while doing nothing to reign in out-of-control price gouging by military contractors,” American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley said.
“Civilian employees are critical to our military defense and actually should be taking on more responsibilities, not less, to free up our service members to focus on their war-fighting duties,” Kelley said. “Cutting civilian employees without reducing workloads means more of that work gets shifted to our already overburdened service members or unregulated and costlier contractors.”
As the Congressional Budget Office recently noted in a report echoed by the Washington Post editorial board, DoD could save $20 billion over 10 years just by redirecting work currently performed by service members to civilian employees.