By James Beaty
McALESTER — U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin says he expects sequestration to occur March 1.
The District 2 Republican made the statement while speaking to reporters Friday before his town hall meeting at the Kiamichi Technology Center and after the meeting began.
“This is a pure example of government at its ‘best,”’ Mullin said with sarcasm directed at Congress and the administration.
Sequestration is the term used to refer to $1.2 trillion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts for both defense and non-defense spending that are set to go into effect March 1 if the president and Congress do not stop it.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, has issued a statement saying that up to 1,700 civilian employees at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant face furloughs if sequestration goes into effect — and that’s only the beginning of the cuts.
Mullin said the numbers of projected civilian job furloughs at the plant that he’s hearing aren’t that high, but are still are in the 200 range.
He referred to the fact that sequestration as it now stands will require across-the- board cuts, regardless of the worth of the program.
“We can see how productive and how well-planned our ammunition plant is,” he said.
Referring to sequestration and Congress as a whole, Mullin said, “We’re going to let it happen.”
However, Inhofe hasn’t given up the fight to try and avert sequestration. Even if Mullin is convinced sequestration will take place, would he be ready to fight to avert it, if the opportunity arises?
Mullin said he’s in Washington to represent the best interests of the plant.
At the town hall meeting, Mullin said he’s “95 percent sure” sequestration will occur when the deadline hits.
“Government does not look at what is best,” Mullin said. The cuts will range from 8 percent to 9 percent, he said.
“It’s a crying shame to do that because there’s so many programs that’s worthless,’ Mullin said.
He sees no strong will in Congress to stop sequestration.
“Unfortunately, it’s going to happen,” he said, at one point adding, “I’m sorry.”
James Beaty writes for the McAlester News-Capital.