Brown, local leaders fight to protect Whitehall defense jobs

Columbus Dispatch

More than 5,500 workers in Whitehall were relieved Monday when the U.S. Senate passed a $716 billion defense spending bill that didn’t keep a House provision that could have slashed the number of civilian defense jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency.

On Friday, Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard said the agency is the largest employer in Whitehall, with those jobs accounting for more than $300 million in annual payroll. Losing the jobs would crush the community, she said.

However, those jobs could still be in jeopardy, depending on how the final version of the bill. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown joined Maggard Friday at the Columbus Partnership headquarters Downtown in an effort to protect the jobs. While Brown, along with Republican Sen. Rob Portman, kept the provision out of the Senate version, the future of those jobs will ultimately be decided when a conference committee of the House and Senate meets to reconcile differences in the bills. Brown said he is confident the provision to cut the jobs will not be in the final version of the bill.

“They put a lot more money in the defense department in the last couple years, and they decide to go after the easy stuff to cut,” Brown said. “Its people behind the scenes. It’s not people in uniform. It’s not expensive weapons systems. You don’t have the big defense contractors weighing in, you have a community ... They come back and want to go after middle-class jobs like this.”

Brown said this cut — and the negative impact it would have — was not well thought out, adding that the provision caught him by surprise.

 

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