Sequester cuts threaten NASA, defense lobby warns

If sequestration is allowed to take effect next month, more than 20,000 NASA and NOAA jobs tied to everything from design and development of new space programs to maintenance of space satellites could be lost, according to the report. 

“NASA and NOAA are responsible for cutting edge activities that expand the boundaries of knowledge and discovery, lead to economic innovation and save lives," she added. "We can’t afford not to invest in these sources of American scientific and technological greatness." 

The AIA report is a departure from Blakey's surprisingly rosy fiscal forecast for the defense aerospace industry unveiled last Wednesday. 

During the group's annual luncheon in Washington, the AIA chief said she anticipated a $6 billion increase in sales for fiscal 2013, mostly coming from the civilian sector. 

“There’s good news for 2013 — yes, that may surprise you,” Blakey said, but noted the group did not factor sequestration into the group's analysis.  

“Yes, I’m sure some of you are wondering, 'Did she factor in sequestration?' " she said. “No, guys, I didn’t. I’m an optimist, and we have to prevail.”

AIA has been at the forefront of the defense industry push to stop the cuts from sequestration, which could force the Pentagon to curtail projects and weapons programs over the next decade.

Prior to Thursday's report, the focus of AIA and other defense industry lobbying groups in Washington has been on the detrimental effect on DOD space and aviation programs due to sequestration. 

Now they’re warning of the impact on civilian programs as well, as they struggle to get their voices heard on Capitol Hill, where the “fiscal cliff” debate over taxes has largely overshadowed the efforts to stop sequestration.

Defense company executives have expressed frustration at being pushed aside in the deficit talks between President Obama and congressional leaders, and are trying to muscle back into the debate before a $55 billion cut to the Pentagon begins in January.

Last Monday, top executives from defense giants Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney prodded Republicans to accept higher tax revenues in a deficit deal in order to move ahead on stopping the sequester.