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Monday, July 15, 2013 - 1:30am

Austin Scott On Sequester: I Warned You

It's week two of furloughs for thousands of civilian Department of Defense employees across Georgia.

Congressman Austin Scott of Georgia's Eighth District was among a minority of Republicans who voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011, the law that set the stage for sequestration — across the board spending cuts that have affected all federal agencies.

Speaking to GPB from his Washington office, Scott bemoaned sequestration without laying the original blame at either political party's feet. "This shouldn't have happened," he said. "I'm sorry that it passed, this is no way to run a government."

Scott's district includes Robins Air Force Base, Middle Georgia's largest employer. He said he’s still working to reverse sequestration cuts to the Pentagon, but blamed Democrats for stalling the process.

"What they’re asking for is spending increases in areas, quite honestly, where they have already had tremendous amounts of spending increases," Scott said. "I think the food stamp program is a good example of that."

(President Barack Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal would also reverse the sequestration cuts, in part through cuts to other programs.)

Meanwhile, Scott says he’s confident there won’t be a round of military base closures for at least the next two years.

Republicans have successfully blocked a push by the White House to convene a Base Realignment and Closure Commission next year, Scott said. He thinks, however, the President will get one through in 2016, and it won’t necessarily be a bad thing for Robins.

"We want to be able to compete for Navy business as well as Air Force business at Robins Air Force Base," he said. "If the language in a base realignment bill allows us to compete for Navy depot business, then I believe that we will grow."

Scott says sequestration remains the more urgent concern for Robins and the surrounding economy. If the cuts are not reversed, he says furloughs of civilian employees on base could turn into layoffs.

All Pentagon employees are taking 11 unpaid days off between now and the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30th. What happens in October has yet to be determined, he said.