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POLITICS: Joe Wilson asks House budget committee take it easy on Fort Jackson, SRS

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale, sent a letter to all members of the House Budget Conference Committee on Thursday asking they take into account the needs of the Savannah River Site near Aiken and Fort Jackson in Columbia as sequestration cuts are expected in January.

“As you continue negotiations over the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget, I commend you and your fellow budget-conference committee members for taking on the difficult task of working towards a budget solution. It is my hope that a reasonable solution to the arbitrary sequestration cuts is found while providing a blueprint that will put our country on a more sustainable path.

“As you and your fellow Committee Members begin the negotiations process, I ask that you make a concerted effort towards ensuring these essential cuts are made as strategically and responsibly as possible. I voted against the Budget Control Act because I knew that sequestration’s broad and indiscriminate cuts would decimate our military capability and strategic national security assets across the country.

“In South Carolina’s Second Congressional District, we have seen the effects of the sequestration cuts firsthand. The Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS) provides the country with defense environmental cleanup efforts, nuclear weapons activities, and fulfills international non-proliferation agreements. SRS has been forced to furlough and layoff thousands of workers over the last year. The Site has also seen dramatic scaling back of vital national security missions that will drive up the overall costs of these projects.

“One hundred miles northeast of Savannah River Site is Fort Jackson.Fort Jackson is the Army’s largest basic combat training installation and is tasked with training new Army recruits with the basic yet essential combat skills that every Soldier must possess. Sequestration has caused significant disruptions to training due to many Department of the Army civilians being furloughed, especially medical personnel. Training budgets have also been reduced and threaten to degrade the quality of training that these Army trainees receive. These budget cuts are already undermining our national security in the form of military readiness and threating the well being of our men and women in uniform.

“It is imperative that we make reductions in spending but we must make sound decisions about what funds are decreased. Making arbitrary cuts to essential defense and radioactive environmental cleanup missions is not the way to balance our budget. This will only jeopardize our national security, and at the same time drive up costs for the projects in the out years."

"As you all make these difficult and important decisions regarding our nation’s budget and sequestration, I strongly urge you to keep my aforementioned thoughts in mind."

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