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Defense, Other Sectors Band Together To Fight Sequester

Signaling new momentum in the defense industry’s fight against automatic spending cuts, a broad coalition that includes university, military, public health and science groups will announce its plans to fend off the looming sequester.

The organizations on Monday will “detail a joint effort they are undertaking to put a stop to the severe budget cuts currently set to go into effect on March 1,” a news advisory stated. It added: “This event marks the first time the defense and nondefense communities have joined together to speak with one voice about the ways in which Americans will be harmed by continued cuts to core government functions, including the military, education, public health, science, public safety, and infrastructure.”

Participants at Monday’s event at the National Press Club include Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, which has been the lead group fighting the automatic cuts known as the sequester. AIA’s chairman, Wes Bush, who is CEO and president of Northrop Grumman Corp., will also be there. So will Emily Holubowich, executive director of the Coalition for Health Funding; Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities.

The defense industry has released numerous reports on the potential economic consequences of the sequester cuts. Some projections estimate that as many as 2 million workers could lose their jobs and that the cuts could put the U.S. economy back into recession.

The recent mood among many defense industry insiders had been one of resignation, a reflection of the belief that members of Congress and President Barack Obama will not come up with an alternative to cut federal spending. Republicans on Capitol Hill, despite a history of being advocates for defense and military spending, have in recent years been a difficult audience for the sector’s lobbyists as conservatives in Congress championed spending cuts.

But in comments last week at a White House briefing, Obama said the sequester would damage the already-jittery economy.

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