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Hagan, Burr say they want end to defense cuts

Posted August 6, 2013

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— Both U.S. senators from North Carolina say military readiness is a top priority, even as drastic budget cuts known as “the sequester” threaten it.

Speaking Tuesday at a defense trade show in Fayetteville, Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr said they don’t want to see the across-the-board budget cuts drag on.

Hagan described the sequester as "a poison pill" and quoted one of her colleagues, who called it "stupid on steroids."

"The Senate has a budget. The House has a budget,” said Hagan, a Democrat. “We’re trying to appoint conferees in the Senate so we can come together and meet with the House, form a budget and do away with this sequester.”

Hagan, Burr confident in military despite defense cuts Hagan, Burr confident in military despite defense cuts

Hagan and Burr appeared on stage together at Fayetteville Technical Community College for the 12th annual North Carolina Defense and Economic Development Trade Show. The show, which drew about 700 people, is designed to help businesses snag federal government contracts.

With Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, the military is big business in North Carolina. But the automatic spending cuts under the sequester have led to furloughs of more than 8,000 civilian defense employees at Fort Bragg alone.

The defense budget faces another $52 billion cut this fall. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has warned of "serious damage" to the military if Congress doesn't act.

The senators said they are confident that politics won't compromise America’s military might.

"I talked with Secretary Hagel on the phone last night," said Burr, a Republican. "I'm convinced that as we bring our strength down to the levels that are targeted, that it's not going to be as big of a strain on the budget."

He said the military has to be "smarter and faster and cheaper" if the nation is serious about reducing the deficit.

Hagan said she wants to make sure the defense presence in North Carolina gets bigger, even while the federal defense budget gets smaller.

Easing the burden, the Pentagon moved Tuesday to cut the number of unpaid furlough days for civilian employees from 11 to six after finding $1.5 billion in savings. Burr said he can sympathize: His son is a furloughed employee at the Department of Defense.

"My hope is that as we move into the next calendar year, furloughs are not the subject of conversation," Burr said. "But living within a tight budget is going to be a challenge."

Contractors who attended the trade show said they are definitely feeling the impact of the sequester.

"We've had some cutbacks, and we'll probably also have cutbacks at the end of the year," said Donna Wiker of BAE Systems, an aerospace company.

"It trickles down to quite a few people," she said. "At our company, there are people who have a lot of years in. To think of this and losing your job after all these years, it's definitely hurting BAE systems."

James Macdonell, with SEPI Engineering & Construction of Raleigh, said there are fewer contracting opportunities with the federal government as a result of the budget cuts.

"The first concern would be the uncertainty in the upcoming market – not knowing where federal money is going to be spent on construction and engineering projects," he said.

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  • bowens44 Aug 8, 2013

    End defense cuts ?!? Are you kidding me ? We should slash defense spending drastically. 50% across the board would be a good start. The money we spend on the military in this country is obscene.

  • junkmail5 Aug 8, 2013

    This video will show all of your favorite democrats saying the exact same thing about Hussein's WMD's. The list includes Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sec. of state Madelline Albright, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Edwards and Joe Biden among many other democrats.
    Pirate01

    Well, Hillary aint' my favorite anything.... but yes, they believed the SAME incorrect intelligence reports.... nobody's arguing otherwise.

    The fact remains the UN didn't actually authorize the action in question.

  • superman Aug 8, 2013

    Cut the defense budget. Our troops havent been used to defend this county since the invasion of Pearl Harbour. We are past the verge of bankrupcy in this country. Cut spending and do it yesterday.

  • Pirate01 Aug 7, 2013

    "The UN had not authorized futher military action in Iraq, the US (with UK help) did that unilaterally, using the excuse that Saddam refused to surrender his WMDs.

    Which he turned out not to actually have once we invaded.

    Oops.
    junkmail5"

    Hillary Clinton said Iraq had them!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSwSDvgw5Uc

    This video will show all of your favorite democrats saying the exact same thing about Hussein's WMD's. The list includes Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sec. of state Madelline Albright, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Edwards and Joe Biden among many other democrats.

  • Pirate01 Aug 7, 2013

    If Hagan and the dems did not want to cut funding to national security they should not have used our nations safety as a bargaining chip so they could waste more money on other failed government programs and the next Solyndra.

  • junkmail5 Aug 7, 2013

    Not our business? We were bound to enforce a conditional cease fire agreement- HockeyPlayerX

    Had Saddam reinvaded Kuwait in secret or something?

    The UN had not authorized futher military action in Iraq, the US (with UK help) did that unilaterally, using the excuse that Saddam refused to surrender his WMDs.

    Which he turned out not to actually have once we invaded.

    Oops.

  • HockeyPlayerX Aug 7, 2013

    Not our business? We were bound to enforce a conditional cease fire agreement. If the US didn't want to be responsible for enforcing a conditional cease fire, they should have signed an unconditional cease fire instead.

  • sunshine1040 Aug 7, 2013

    Did either of them say cut their pay or travel allowance or reduce their staff and put the money saved back in the budget. I missed that line or maybe it was not there

  • icmfal Aug 7, 2013

    126 Democrats did not care if Saddam Hussein was in murdering tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians each year, or the fact that he and his sons were torturing and raping women in rape dungeons. Something to be very proud of it you are a Democrat...for sure.
    Click to view my profileHockeyPlayer

    And where was this happening? Iraq? frankly, not our business. We cannot invade every country because we do not like the crimes being committed.

    What if some country decides that they do not the USA's murder/rape rates and decided to attack us? We would not be very happy about and would tell them it is not their business!

  • HockeyPlayerX Aug 7, 2013

    "Our budgets are formulated by puppets of the military industrial complex." ... **Tinfoil hat alert!**

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