LAS VEGAS -Three Senate Armed Services Committee Republicans, led by Senator John McCain (AZ), are touring the nation, mourning the impact of sequestration on defense spending. On Monday, they will bring their act to the world's entertainment capitol. However, what Senator McCain and his Senate GOP colleagues Lindsay Graham (SC) and Kelly Ayotte (NH) will say about sequestration isn't entertaining or even newsworthy. That sequestration will result in arbitrary and excessive cuts in defense spending is obvious.
That's one of many reasons why the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents 650,000 federal employees who serve the American people across the nation and around the world in more than 70 different agencies, strongly opposed the Budget Control Act, which created the sequestration process. Senator McCain, however, voted to enact sequestration.
What Senator McCain and his colleagues won't say is actually much more interesting. Senator McCain won't discuss how he included his own arbitrary cut in Section 341 in the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act, which slashes the Department of Defense's (DoD) civilian workforce by 5%--with the support of Senators Graham and Ayotte. All three Senators will complain that sequestration will cause arbitrary cuts in defense spending, which will adversely affect the defense industrial base and thus undermine the economy. But that's exactly what they are already attempting to achieve through the inclusion of Section 341, also known as the McCain Cuts.
Rather than providing leadership and telling the Department which functions it should no longer perform, Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte simply threw their hands up in the air and told the Department to do more with less. In fact, McCain's original proposal was to cut the civilian workforce by 15%. The Department's military, civilian, and contractor workforces will have to be right-sized to take into account geopolitical and budgetary realities. However, reductions should be based on workload analysis, consistent with the law, rather than McCain's arbitrary cuts.
Civilian personnel costs have held steady over the last 10 years while spending on service contractors has more than doubled, even after taking wartime spending into account. Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte should be sharply slashing service contract spending and requiring the Department to comply with various sourcing and workforce management laws, including the one requiring insourcing - bringing privatized work back in-house where it can be performed by reliable and experienced civilian employees. Instead, they have attacked civilian employees.
This is no surprise to AFGE. All three Senators cosponsored legislation (S. 2065) that would offset the impact of sequestration on DoD by slashing the federal workforce and extending a two-year freeze on federal employee pay. All three Senators have opposed reasonable proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy, which might have led to a broader budgetary agreement that would have already precluded sequestration. And all three Senators continue to ignore the calamitous impact of sequestration on non-DoD agencies - from processing retirement checks in the Social Security Administration to safeguarding our homeland in the Border Patrol to nursing our wounded warriors in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Nevadans will have to hear a lot of complaints from Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte about the problem of sequestration. However, what Nevadans need to know is that as far as sequestration goes, they are the problem. Senator McCain helped to enact sequestration. All three Senators have stymied efforts to stave off sequestration. All three Senators have ignored the impact of sequestration on agencies other than DoD. And all three Senators have even written legislation that will have the same effect on DoD as sequestration.