Hale intervened to prevent service leaders from responding when they were asked whether they agreed with the Obama administration’s insistence on a “balanced” solution to the fiscal predicament.
At a later hearing of the House Small Business Committee, Hale’s deputy, Michael McCord, delivered similar testimony to members and industry witnesses concerned that some defense small business contracts already have been canceled.
“I’d be inclined to look at furloughs more than reductions in force, meaning we won’t lose expertise but we would lose work years,” he said. The impact on morale “can’t be quantified, but you don’t wish to tell people ‘you’re about to be laid off,’ " he added, which is why the Defense secretary advised against it. “That uncertainty creates a bad dynamic.”
Richard Ginman, director of Defense procurement and acquisition, said, “the vast majority of our contracts are fully funded, so there’s no need to terminate existing contracts unless the product is no longer needed.” But he stressed that contracts are let based on the needs of the warfighter, not on whether the contractor is small or large. Nonetheless, Ginman sought to reassure panel ranking member Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., that the Pentagon would continue its efforts to meet the goal of 23 percent of contract dollars going to small business. “The Office of Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics pays attention to industrial base, sector by sector,” he said. “They will continue analysis of key technologies and take action to protect them.”
At the Armed Services hearing, sparks flew over the politics that led to sequestration becoming an increasingly real proposition. McKeon and others blamed the Senate for failing to enact a budget or to take up House-passed solutions. “The way I read the Constitution,” he said, “they have to pass something in the Senate so that we can then meet in conference to work out our differences.”
Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., blamed the Senate and the White House for failing to pass a budget, saying, “it’s time for President Obama to lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way of this country.” Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said Congress should “look in the mirror” to place blame. “I didn’t vote for this idiotic law.”
Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., said Congress is being irresponsible for leaving town with six weeks to go before the elections. He said he planned to vote no on the motion to adjourn.