Graham to defense firms: Notify workers now of layoff threat from automatic cuts

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDurbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement MORE (R-S.C.) called on companies to issue hundreds of thousands of layoff notices to workers threatened by an impending $500 billion in automatic defense cuts to highlight the danger of sequestration.

Graham told reporters Tuesday that the threat of job losses that’s set to hit in January is the only way to pressure lawmakers to actually act and reverse the cuts.

“We will do nothing until the layoff notices come,” Graham said of Congress.

“We wrote this stupid law, we should feel the effect of this stupid law. Don’t hide us from our stupidity,” he said, before adding that he voted against “this stupid law.”

Graham was referring to the Budget Control Act that passed in last year’s debt-limit deal, which set in motion roughly $500 billion in cuts to both defense and non-defense spending in January unless Congress can find alternate deficit reduction.

Nearly all Democrats and Republicans want to avert the cuts, but the two sides have deep disagreements over taxes and mandatory spending and have been unable to reach a deal.

Graham in recent weeks has begun talking about Republicans putting new revenues on the table, although he has not gone so far as to endorse raising tax rates, which Democrats are demanding.

The defense industry has tried to up the ante by threatening to issue layoff notices due to sequestration just days before the 2012 election, pointing to 60-day requirements under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.

Graham said that the companies should issue the notices even sooner, because he believes that will spur Congress to act.

“I am calling on the business community to release the layoff notices in compliance with the statute as soon as possible,” he said. “I’m calling on the Pentagon to inform their civil employees this is the law of the land and you’re going to lose your job come January.”