McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

March 26, 2013

McAAP:

McAAP furloughs delayed for 2 weeks

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — Employees at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant were among those whose expected furlough notices have been delayed for approximately two weeks while the Department of Defense studies how a new spending bill might impact planned budget cuts.

McAAP spokesman Kevin Jackson said Monday he had received no further information regarding furloughs of McAAP employees since learning of the two-week delay.

While furloughs have been expected, McAAP employees had not received the required written notice specifying when the furloughs would begin, according to Jackson.

“We still don’t have a date,” Jackson said around 11 a.m. Monday.

In early March, Jackson said McAAP employees knew there was a recommendation in place that they be furloughed without pay one day a week. Furloughs were expected as a result of the approximately $85 billion in defense and domestic spending cuts required as a result of sequestration action in Congress. The cuts were required by the current federal fiscal year, which expires Sept. 30, 2013 — part of $1.2 trillion in cuts required over 10 years.

While some Department of Defense furlough notices were expected to start going out last week, Congress passed legislation Thursday to provide funds to keep the government operating through the end of the federal fiscal year.

The legislation would allow a provision to allow the Department of Defense to shift funds.

District 2 U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin had expressed hope in early March that the continuing resolution to keep the government funded through September might help McAAP.

“With the continuing resolution vote, we’re going to give flexibility to the military to make its own decisions,” Mullin said — a reference to letting the military service chiefs decide where the cuts would cause the least harm.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff came together and that’s what they’re asking for,” Mullin said. At the time, the congressman had conceded it wouldn’t solve the problems caused by sequestration.

“That’s making the best of a very bad situation,” Mullin told the News-Capital earlier this month.

The Associated Press has reported that according  to planning in place last week, about 24 percent of the U.S. Army’s 333,000 civilian employees would not face furloughs. Those with exemptions could include civilian employees in war zones, contractors or workers who are in facilities that fund operations through their earnings, according to the AP.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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