Defense Spending Bill Causes Stir in Pennsylvania

August 11, 2012

By Jonathan Strong, Roll Call

Some Pennsylvania Republicans are scrambling to explain their votes for a House spending bill now that it appears a range of Army depots and arsenals could face severe, unanticipated cuts under the legislation.

The Defense Department estimated that 3,000 jobs are in the balance nationwide, and one Member of Congress attributes the surprise cuts to an “accounting error.”

The issue comes as lawmakers are already feeling pressure over steep automatic spending cuts required by last year’s debt limit deal under its pending sequestration provisions.

The House-passed cuts are more of a political cudgel than an actual threat to the defense facilities because House and Senate leaders have already reached a deal for a six-month continuing resolution and the bill at issue is now highly unlikely to become law.

And House lawmakers who spotted the problem during the floor debate on the bill vowed to fix it before it was ever passed in final form.

Still, Democratic challengers in Pennsylvania are ripping GOP Members for their votes in support of the bill.

Phil Scollo, a businessman challenging Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), has turned the issue into a mini-crusade.

“This defense appropriations bill would seriously impact our region’s economy and destroy local jobs,” Scollo said. “Tom Marino needs to come clean with voters about what actually happened and why he voted for this bill because the story his office told the Times-Leader does not match the record, as told by his own colleagues.”

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