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Lawmaker: Budget fix unlikely until last minute

Jan. 16, 2013 - 10:54AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 16, 2013 - 10:54AM  |  
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A House member whose district includes a key Navy sub base said any budget deal that would prevent a government shutdown and a disruption in military spending will likely be a last-minute scramble, much like the recent deal to postpone going over the so-called fiscal cliff.

Speaking Wednesday at the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium in Arlington, Va., Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., said he anticipates the path to avoiding budget cuts triggered by sequestration now due to take effect March 1 would be through the Senate leadership, which would likely craft a measure near the deadline that could garner bipartisan support.

Courtney, whose district includes the submarines at Groton, said he is "somewhat disappointed" the House isn't addressing serious financial measures.

"It puts a big cloud over your abilities to plan," he said.

Courtney, who has been nicknamed "Two Subs Joe" for pushing the Navy to build two submarines per year instead of one, said the shipbuilding caucus would be hit particularly hard.

Courtney's comments came after">a Jan. 11 message from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said another continuing resolution would mean the Navy Department wouldn't have enough money to handle its obligations for the current fiscal year. To continue the mission, cuts would come to base operations and maintenance, technology and administrative spending, and contracted administrative support; temporary employees would be fired; and travel would be reduced.

"These steps will not solve the problem completely. We will only be able to sustain current fleet operations. We will not be able to sufficiently maintain and reset our forces for future operations," according to the message.

The Navy Department has been operating under a continuing resolution since October that keeps spending levels for the current fiscal year level with the previous year.

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