By Humberto Sanchez, Roll Call
Contrary to guidance issued by the White House last week, GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) urged 15 major government contractors today to issue layoff warnings in advance of automatic spending cuts set to begin next year.
The pair also vowed to block any effort to use government funds to cover any liability contractors may face over delaying the warnings, required under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. If contractors anticipate layoffs as of Jan. 2, 2013 â€” the day the so-called sequester is set to go into effect â€” they would need to issue layoff warnings just days in advance of the Nov. 6 election in order to comply with the 60-day notice provision.
â€œWe plan to block any effort by the Administration to reimburse contractors who fail to provide the required WARN Act notifications,â€ the letter said. â€œWe will oppose any requested funding increase in the budget process, any reprogramming action, including transfers that fall below the level requiring Congressional notification, or use of any program funds to reimburse contractors for any expenses resulting from failure to comply with the law.â€
The warning comes after the White House had said government funds could be made available to help defray those costs.
â€œDespite the Administrationâ€™s guidance not to issue WARN notices now, it is our fear that, should you rely on that guidance and fail to comply with the WARN Act requirements, you will be setting your company up for serious legal and financial repercussions,â€ the letter continued. â€œThe Congress should not put the taxpayers on the hook if a private company fails to follow the law.â€
Currently $109 million in security and nonsecurity cuts, including $55 billion from defense, are set to go into effect into January, which could result in government contractors having to lay off workers. The cuts are part of the $1.2 trillion sequester over 10 years that was triggered by Congressâ€™ inability to agree on a deficit reduction plan last year.
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