December 11, 2007

CARDIN, MIKULSKI: BUSH ADMINISTRATION MUST NOT THREATEN JOBS OVER IRAQ FUNDING BATTLE

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today urged Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Robert Gates not to threaten furloughs and lay-offs for DoD employees over the Bush Administration's inability to reach an agreement with Congress on funding for the war in Iraq.

"Our federal employees are on the front lines every day, working hard for America - they deserve to be treated fairly.  The Department of Defense should not be threatening unemployment for the holidays over a political disagreement," said Senator Mikulski.  "I will continue to stand up for our federal employees, America's true patriots."

"I urge the Pentagon to cease the theatrics and threats to furlough civilian employees.  These are hard-working, dedicated men and women who support every facet of our military," said Senator Cardin.  "They should be respected, not scape-goated, for the lack of compromise between the Administration and Congress."

The Senators sent a letter to Secretary Gates following press reports that the DoD has warned its 200,000 civilian employees that their jobs may be at risk because of the White House's disagreement with Congress over funding for the war in Iraq.

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Gates:

We write to strongly urge you to use all budget flexibility available to your office to avoid furloughing or laying off any Department of Defense employees.  We believe at this point that discussions of furloughs and terminations are unhelpful and premature.
 
The employees at DoD are on the front lines everyday.  They are dedicated to their jobs and to keeping America safe.  Many have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq to support our Armed Services. Unnecessarily bringing up the specter of furloughs and terminations - especially around the holiday season - lowers morale and threatens to push employees with needed expertise into retirement. Their jobs are too important to put in the middle of a political battle between the Administration and Congress.

We in Congress will continue to do our best to provide the funding the Pentagon needs to fulfill its mission and are confident we will be able to come to an agreement soon. We urge you to make clear to those who work hard everyday for you and for the security of all Americans that their jobs are safe so they can continue to focus on their mission at work, not on political gamesmanship.