A group of Republicans in the House of Representatives recently brought forth proposed legislation that aims to cut the civilian employees at the Department of Defense by 15 percent over six years.
The savings gleaned from cutting these jobs would be used to improve the military, and support those who are on active duty in the armed forces.
The REDUCE Act
Meet the REDUCE Act….The Rebalance for an Effective Defense Uniform and Civilian Employees. Introduced by Ken Calvert (R-California), a member of the House of Representatives, the act would eliminate close to 115,000 civilian jobs at the Department of Defense.
There are currently 770,000 civilian employees there, and Calvert’s act would reduce this number to around 655,000. Calvert has said he believes this legislation would save the nation’s money, while forcing the Department of Defense to selectively cull civilian jobs without compromising our ability to defend the nation against outside threats.
Large Civilian Workforce as a Financial Burden
Calvert has also said that he believes the continuing expansion of the number of civilian employees at the Department of Defense creates a serious burden on the U.S. national budget. He also believes this budgetary impact will negatively affect active duty military personnel.
Reducing civilian jobs at the Department of Defense, he states, will allow the United States to focus more on the role of the military in defending the nation. His proposed bill is in direct opposition to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s proposed bill to cut the number of active duty armed forces personnel.
Resistance to the REDUCE Act
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) voiced immediate disapproval of the REDUCE Act. This group is the largest union representing federal workers. The group believes the REDUCE Act would actually increase the nation’s budgetary burden regarding defense by forcing it to hire high-priced contractors and consultants.
These people wouldn’t be permanent federal employees, and they would cost a lot more than regular employees do. This, the AFGE believes, would not only increase costs to the nation, but would impair the government’s ability to defend the nation by depending on people who don’t work in defense on a regular basis, and aren’t thoroughly familiar with the jobs and needs of the Department of Defense.
GOP Response to the REDUCE Act Concerns
The GOP seems to be firmly behind the REDUCE Act, with Representative Calvert saying the act would save the government $82.5 billion in the first five years of its enactment.
This extra $82.5 billion in savings could be kept inside the government and used to improve the quality of our nation’s weapons, strengthen our military readiness, and provide extra support in various ways to armed forces personnel, who are on the front lines of defense for the nation. Most of the GOP in the House of Representatives seems to be on board with the REDUCE Act, with Reps.
Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Darrell Issa (R-California), Devin Nunes (R-California), and Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) co-sponsoring the bill.
The REDUCE Act clearly shows the differences in how the GOP and Democrats view defense and budget concerns in this country. Whether or not it will pass into law remains to be seen. It seems to have a good chance of passing the Republican-controlled House, but its chances in the Democrat-controlled Senate mean it may never make it to the president’s desk, where it would be virtually certain to get a veto.