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Rep. Walter Jones give sequestration update

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HAVELOCK, N.C. -

Civilian workers at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point are finally getting back to a normal work schedule.

Because of federal budget cuts, they had to take six days of unpaid time off, and they're worried it could happen again next year.

Congressman Walter Jones, who spoke at a luncheon in Havelock Monday to give an update on sequestration, says he regrets the pain the budget cuts have caused, but sequestration is not over yet.

"This country's in bad shape. And we want to play the game of policing the world and cut jobs here at Cherry Point? It doesn't make sense," said Jones.

The sequestration budget cuts that kicked in this year forced about 3,300 civilian employees at Cherry Point to take mandatory time off without pay, said Col. Blayne H. Spratlin, commanding officer at Fleet Readiness Center East.

"My concern is it could happen again in the next year," said Todd Thurman, vice president of Zenetex, a company that provides support to FRC East.

Jones says Congress is spending too much money overseas and not enough at home.

Because of the furloughs, Col. Spratlin says the depot has had a 35 percent reduction in workload.

"We're trying to regain the momentum we had before the furloughs," said Spratlin.

Rep. Jones says the only way the sequestration budget cuts will end is if Congress passes a budget, which he says they haven't done in four years.

"Sequestration is punishment because we were not able to come forward with a budget, and my hope is at some point in time, the next year, if we get lucky, we have a budget," said Jones.

Jones did not rule out the possibility of more furloughs in the next fiscal year, something FRC East is already preparing for.

"We are planning for fiscal year 14 to be a reduction in workload and work-hours based on information we have now," said Spratlin.

Spratlin says the less funding there is for FRC East, the longer it'll take for them to fix airplanes critical for military missions.

The federal government says it will cut a trillion dollars from domestic and military spending over the next 10 years. Half of that will come from the Department of Defense.

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