Portsmouth Patch: Shea-Porter: USS Miami Work to Continue
By Robert Cook
As Congress continues its battle over sequestration and nearly 6,000 Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers get ready for furloughs, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter said the $450 million USS Miami repair project will continue.
Shea-Porter toured the shipyard with Paul O’Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council, on Monday morning before she held a press conference outside of Gate A with the media.
“There’s been a change. The work on the USS Miami will continue,” she said. Shea-Porter explained the continuing resolution that was passed by Congress on the same day that shipyard workers held a rally against sequestration in Portsmouth delayed the furloughs by two weeks and called for the USS Miami repair work to continue.
While the USS Miami repair project is not directly linked to sequestration which went into effect on March 4 or the one day per week furloughs that shipyard workers will have to absorb for 22 weeks beginnings in early May, Shea-Porter was upbeat about the negotiations in Washington.
She believes common ground can be found between Republican and Democractic Party lawmakers. “The Republicans believe we need cuts. Democrats believe we need cuts and revenue so we are stuck on this point right now,” she said.
Shea-Porter, who serves on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, said she is determined to do whatever she can to end sequestration, which is poised to deliver a 20 percent pay cut to thousands of shipyard workers. “The cuts don’t make any sense to me and it doesn’t make any sense to people who work here,” she said.
O’Connor said he and shipyard workers take little solace from the two-week delay in scheduled furloughs approved by the Department of Defense last week. “Sequestration will cause real pain,” he said.
He also stressed that sequestration will not save taxpayers any money because if shipyard workers have to work four days per week instead of five days per week for 22 weeks, it will put the Navy submarine and maintenance program behind schedule, which will result in more overtime to stay on schedule.
In a prepared statement, Americans for Prosperity – New Hampshire called Shea-Porter to offer sequester solutions that don’t raise taxes on New Hampshire families and employers.
“If Rep. Shea-Porter wants to complain about the spending reductions in the sequester, it’s time she moved away from the idea of new taxes that will send our economy into reverse. New Hampshire needs jobs, not new taxes on our families and employers,” said Greg Moore, the Americans for Prosperity – New Hampshire state director.
At the shipyard, Shea-Porter believes voters nationwide will play a crucial role in ending sequestration, especially if it hurts the economic recovery as some economists have predicted. She said if sequestration slows growth and increases unemployment, that will resonate in Washington.
She said she also plans to bring more members of Congress to the shipyard so they can see the great work that is being done here to help keep the nation safe and how sequestration negatively affects that mission.
Overall, Shea-Porter is optimistic the two sides can reach a compromise. She she has seen more civility shown by Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the last few weeks and that some Republican lawmakers have expressed a willingness to allow some additional taxes in exchange for some cuts in programs that Democrats favor. “The conversation is going on,” she said.