July 17, 2013 Updated: July 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm
Colorado Springs Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn introduced an amendment to a defense spending bill this week that would ban the Pentagon from furloughing civilian workers.
The amendment, which has a long way to go before it’s added to the bill, would stop furloughs after Oct. 1, protecting workers from furlough in the next fiscal year. The 11-days of furloughs for defense workers this year will remain in place.
Lamborn’s plan doesn’t come with an alternative to furloughs, which were implemented by the Defense Department as part of plan to cut $50 billion in spending annually to meet the budget restrictions that came with sequestration.
“These sequestration furloughs are unnecessary and I believe an attempt by the Obama Administration to inflict maximum pain in order to gain some perceived political advantage,” Lamborn said in a statement.
Lamborn says the government should save money by cutting “entitlement programs”, a term that covers a wide swath of spending including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
To become law, the furlough amendment would have to gain approval in the House Armed Services Committee and pass the House and the Senate and get a presidential signature.
Alternatives to furloughs seem unlikely unless lawmakers can come up with a grand plan to end the sequestration cuts. Attempts to cut that kind of deal have foundered on the rocks of partisan politics.
The Democrats who control the Senate won’t agree to slashing social programs and the Republicans who own the house won’t OK big tax increases to cover spending. Between planned post-war cuts and sequestration, the Pentagon must cut spending by $1 trillion over 10 years.
The good news: The Defense Department has agreed to not furlough workers impacted by the Black Forest fire. That’s a handful of workers in the region.