Fort Meade, MD – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin was hosted at Fort George G. Meade Wednesday by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1923 for a town hall with civilian Department of Defense (DOD) employees to discuss sequestration and the federal budget. The group was a sampling of the more than 27,000 DOD civilian employees at Fort Meade, a majority of who have been facing furloughs brought on by sequestration cuts. Fort Meade, the nation’s hub for information, intelligence and cybersecurity is Maryland’s largest employer and the third largest Army post in the nation. The pay cut from furloughs has had ripple effects throughout the region.
“The hard working public servants who support our military deserve better than sequestration. I want our federal workers at DOD and across the government to know that what they do matters, is of paramount importance to our national security, and that we are fighting on their behalf on Capitol Hill. They make sacrifices every day, and in turn, Congress owes it to all of them to work together for a plan that addresses our budget deficit in a balanced and fair manner,” said Senator Cardin. “Furloughs of any length are poor policy. They greatly disrupt our national and economic security and put civilians in financial hardship. We cannot continue to provide for the defense of our nation by maintaining such a harmful policy toward its civilian workers.
“Sequestration is bad for our country and bad for Maryland’s economy,” said John Gage, former National President of AFGE, and current Business Manager of AFGE Local 1923. “Congress must work to end sequestration now. The indiscriminate across-the-board furloughs have had a severe impact on hardworking civil servants, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck. I am glad Senator Cardin gave them the opportunity to voice their concerns and frustrations today.”
“I commend Secretary Hagel for finding a way to reduce furlough days for DOD civilians from 11 to six. It’s welcome news for DOD families and the communities that support our military installations. But losing six days pay is still not acceptable. Sequestration cuts and the resulting furloughs are hurting real people and real families, and hurting our national security by reducing readiness, cutting morale and distracting hardworking public servants from carrying out their vital missions. In addition, it is taking a toll on our regional and national economies. Our civilian defense workforce has showed great patience and patriotism in recent months. Congress owes them a sequester replacement before they are subjected to even deeper cuts in FY 14. It is irresponsible to let political dysfunction get in the way of ensuring for our national security and economic health,” Senator Cardin said to audience gathered at Fort Meade. “We must restart negotiations on a comprehensive plan to replace all of sequestration and restore normal, regular – and in many circumstance – absolutely essential functions of our government.”