State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

State senators urge action in DC to stop military tech furloughs

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 27, 2013 9:46 PM

State lawmakers are prodding members of Congress to keep the Pennsylvania National Guard from having to furlough its technicians.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness is on a letter-writing campaign to fix what she sees as an oversight in the design of automatic federal spending cuts.

Republican Lisa Baker said while the sequester won't hit military personnel, it will mean once-a-week furloughs for military technicians.

"They're individuals who fix aircrafts, humvees, various vehicles," said Baker. "These are federal, civilian employees but they're also fulltime employees of the National Guard who wear the uniform."

She said the automatically scheduled federal budget cuts were designed to protect uniformed military personnel, and grouping military technicians in with federal civilian defense employees who could be furloughed "violates that intent."

Baker has written to U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, as well as U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta and Michael Kelly - asking for their support for legislation to protect technicians from furloughs.

Up to 1,800 National Guard military technicians in the commonwealth could see weekly forced holidays. The head of the Pennsylvania Guard has said a hiring freeze could rule out furloughs for most employees, but not those with the Air National Guard based at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Dauphin County.

Co-signing the letter was Mercer County Republican Sen. Robert Robbins, vice chair of the Senate panel on Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness.

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