Tonight there is hope for the thousands of ship repair workers and shipbuilders in Hampton Roads. There is a resolution under consideration in the Senate that would keep the federal government funded through the end of fiscal years, which is September 30, 2013.
The $984 billion continuing resolution is a joint technique that closely resembles the House version, which passed last week with 53 Democrats and 214 Republicans. Both versions of the resolution allow the Department of Defense more freedom in the use of its funds. This could mean that a number of local ship repair ship building projects can go forward as originally planned.
This resolution could mean that the 11 canceled ship repair contracts could be back on track. Also, overhauls of the USS Abraham Lincoln, USS Theodore Roosevelt and work on the new USS John F. Kennedy could proceed. According to Bill Crow, of the Virginia Ship Repair Association; “Two weeks ago, it was all doom and gloom. Now, I would say we’re cautiously optimistic.”
BAE Systems of Norfolk sent out WARN notices last month to more than 1600 employees that there may be layoffs. Crow says he is now hopeful that 40,000 workers will be spared being laid off.
Senator Kaine said; “We have chance to get it right and reduce the negative effects of sequester. “It will allow us to move forward on significant ship-refurbishment and ship-repair contracts.”
The House version of the continuing resolution includes money to build two Virginia class submarines, that are constructed in part at Newport News Shipbuilding, the House bill also appropriates a 1.7% pay increase for military personnel. If it is left unresolved both versions of the resolution are sequester-related plans to give unpaid leave to more than 800,000 civilian Department of Defense workers starting April 26.
The Senate vote is expected to come on Thursday and any differences with the House version will have to be ironed out before the final bill goes to the desk of President Obama. The current continuing resolution expires in 15 days, and unless this new resolution is passed, the federal government will be shutting down.