Government Shutdown FY2014: Day Seven — Aerospace Corp Layoffs Add to Impacts

Government Shutdown FY2014: Day Seven — Aerospace Corp Layoffs Add to Impacts

Another day, another lack of progress in solving the impasse over the FY2014 budget.   There was some good news, as most DOD civilians got to go back to work today and industry furloughs at two companies consequently were reduced, but on the other hand, almost 60 percent of employees at the Aerospace Corporation are being sent home.

Lockheed Martin still is furloughing 2,400 workers, but that is fewer than the 3,000 announced last week. The company said 2,100 of the 2,400 work on civilian agency programs and the rest on DOD programs; they are in 27 states, but mostly in the Washington, D.C. area.

The reduction in Lockheed Martin furloughs was possible because of DOD’s broad interpretation of a week-old law that allowed most DOD civilian workers to return to work today.  Similarly, United Technologies cancelled a furlough of thousands of workers it announced last week.  Those employees were going to be furloughed because Defense Contract Management Agency inspectors were furloughed and unable to inspect manufacturing processes as required.  Under the new law, however, the inspectors have been recalled so manufacturing can resume.

The news was not so good for the Aerospace Corporation, though.  A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) that assures mission success for Air Force space programs (e.g., launches), Aerospace started a partial work shutdown on October 3, with 2,000 of its 3,500 workers sent home.  Only those working on “excepted mission critical tasks” may continue working.  Aerospace’s President and CEO Wanda Austin issued a statement today reassuring employees that “corporate senior leadership is fully engaged with our customers to minimize the adverse impacts” from the shutdown and ready to “immediately take action to bring people back to work as soon as we are permitted to do so.”

Other aerospace companies do not appear to have issued press releases about the status of their workers, but on Friday Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) President Marion Blakey warned about the impact of an extended shutdown on the aerospace industry, calling the shutdown “a tragic mistake.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Obama continued their verbal sparring matches today.   Reid and Obama are challenging Boehner to bring a “clean” Continuing Resolution (CR) — one that is devoid of political issues and simply funds the government — to the floor of the House for a vote.  Boehner said yesterday there are an insufficient votes to pass such a bill, but Boehner and Obama insist there are.   Obama said today that Boehner should “prove” whether he’s right or not by permitting the bill to come to a vote.  At the moment, there are 232 Republicans and 200 Democrats in the House (with three vacancies).   If all Democrats voted yes, 17 Republicans would also have to vote yes in order for the bill to pass.  The President and Reid believe that at least that many Republicans would, in fact, vote yes.

Boehner also said yesterday that he will not bring a clean bill to the floor to raise the debt limit.  That seems to contradict a statement he made last week asserting that he would not let the nation default on its debt.  The Treasury Department says the nation will exhaust its ability to pay its bills about October 17.   As many point out, raising the debt limit simply allows the government to pay the bills it already has incurred; it does not allow for any additional spending.  However, some Republicans having been seeking Democratic concessions on future spending in return for their votes to raise the debt limit and it now appears that others may be trying to tie the debt limit issue to the debate over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as well. 

One can only hope that more productive discussions among the parties are taking place behind the scenes than in front of the television cameras.

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