Industry

Defense companies say they’ll start furloughing workers ‘within days’

The defense industry says it will furlough thousands of
workers and halt manufacturing production if the government shutdown doesn’t end soon.

The heads of the two largest defense trade associations
wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday urging the Pentagon “use all
the means at the department’s disposal” to keep defense production facilities
operating.

“Within days many of our members will have no choice but to
halt certain defense manufacturing production and furlough employees
indefinitely absent government guidance and payment,” wrote Aerospace
Industries Association President Marion Blakey and National Defense Industrial
Association President Lawrence Farrell.

In the letter, obtained by The Hill, the association
presidents say that defense firms have warned them they will be forced to
furlough thousands of workers if defense contracting functions stop operating.

{mosads}They said the most pressing concern is the lack of Defense
Contract Management Agency inspectors.

“These inspectors are required to audit and approve parts
and operations throughout the manufacturing process for military products,”
Blakey and Farrell wrote. “The manufacturing process must stop if these
inspections and certifications are not performed.”

The industry groups also said they were worried that the
Defense Finance and Accounting Service will stop operating, which they
were informed would occur next week even though funds appropriated in previous
years could be available.

Republicans have urged the Pentagon to bring its civilian
employees back to work, arguing that a law passed on Monday to pay the military
in a shutdown also makes furloughs of civilians unnecessary.

The Pentagon said it is still reviewing the law. Roughly
half of the Defense Department’s 800,000 employees have been furloughed in the
shutdown.

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