RGA Leadership Letter on Sequestration

The Republican Governors Association released a letter today regarding sequestration written by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Chairman of the RGA, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Vice Chairman of the RGA.

A copy of the governors’ letter can be found here, and the complete text is below:

On behalf of Republican governors, we write to you today as the citizens we jointly represent are faced with a daunting economic outlook.  In fact, most governors agree that we are operating in a period of unprecedented uncertainty due to global economic factors and inaction by the federal government.  We, in government, have an obligation to take action when action is necessary, to be decisive, and to make tough decisions for the good of the nation.  The people have entrusted us with these responsibilities.  On spending and debt and deficits, the time to act is now. With an astounding $16 trillion in debt, and over a trillion dollars in deficits the past three years with no end in deficit spending in sight, reducing federal spending is critical to the health of the nation.  Drastic cuts are needed, and we understand that, because unlike the federal government we must balance our budgets every year.  The problem we now face is the haphazard method you and Congress put in place via the sequestration plan.

       Sequestration was a political means to force spending reductions and a budget agreement, not a common sense fiscal policy.  Its implications were so potentially onerous that the generally accepted belief was that Congress would not actually allow it to proceed.  We understood the need to create consequences of such magnitude that the parties would have no choice but to reach an agreement.  However, the super committee failed miserably, Congress has not made changes, and you have failed to lead in pushing a national plan to cut spending while preserving national defense. 

                The negative impacts of sequestration on our national defense have been well articulated from both the public and private sectors.  Sequestration will be devastating to our military capability and to our service men and women as Secretary Panetta has suggested.  It is especially acute given actions over the past decade through Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) to reduce our military, and arguably, their ability to act in a decisive manner on multiple fronts.  Sequestration will not only impact our national military capabilities, but will also have an adverse impact on governors’ abilities to be commanders-in-chief of their states.  Cuts to the Army and Air Guard will limit our ability to keep our citizens safe in the event of unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters that strike unpredictably and from which no state is immune.

                The defense industrial base has also sounded the alarm.  In meeting after meeting on Capitol Hill, in state capitols, and throughout this country, representatives of these major employers have shared with all of us that they must, by law, begin issuing layoff notices as soon as October pursuant to the provisions of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.  Guidance issued just yesterday by the U.S. Department of Labor has done little to reassure our business leaders that the Act does not apply.  In many cases these employers have already begun to prepare for the potential lay off of their work force.  The impact of these layoffs, coupled with the proposed reductions in troop levels, will have negative effects on state and local economies and create more economic uncertainly.

A resolution of this uncertainty cannot wait until after November as we approach another year end crisis.  The sequestration impact on jobs in our states is direct, immediate and devastating.  The impact on our service men and women, our workers, and all of their families, may be irreparable.  The time to make rational, targeted decisions is upon us, and we applaud the U.S. House of Representatives’ action to pass legislation to address the disproportionate impact that sequestration would have on our economy, and in particular our national defense, as well as efforts to enhance the transparency of the process.  We ask that you directly engage with Congress immediately to find a bipartisan solution to avert the catastrophic impact that the sequester will have on our military and our economy.  For the sake of our country and her people, we implore you to act now.