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Senate Democrats have struck down an effort by the GOP to force defense contractors to alert employees in the days leading up to November's election that they may soon be out of a job because of looming cuts to the federal budget, the Associated Press reports.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted down the amendment, proposed by South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, which would have required the contractors to send notices warning their workers that the automatic cuts—which are part of a bipartisan deal to reduce the federal deficit over the next decade—may result in layoffs. About half of the $110 billion cuts slated for January 2, 2013 will come from defense programs.
According to a 1980s law, notifications of budget cuts that will result in layoffs must go out 60 days in advance. For January 2 cuts, letters would arrive four days before the election. But the Labor Department decided earlier this week that the law doesn't apply because such layoffs are currently only speculative, as it’s not yet known where the spending cuts will be made.
Senate Democrats dismissed the GOP bid as a political ploy designed to hurt Obama in the days before the election. Despite the Department of Defense's assurances this week that there’s enough money in the pipeline that defense contractors won’t be hit by the cuts, Graham and others have taken to the stump in battleground states to warn that the automatic cuts will result in job losses.
The Obama team is likely worried about how such notifications could hurt the reelection effort in states like Virginia, where there are high concentrations of defense workers. According to the AP, if firms like Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. tell their 120,000 employees that they may be out of a job thanks to the federal government the Friday before voting booths open, they could effectively sway the election.