Rusty Dennen covers military affairs and the environment for The Free Lance-Star. .
Looming defense cuts topic A on Kaine tour
Sen. Tim Kaine, on the third day of a statewide tour of military installations and related interests, stopped by the Globe & Laurel Restaurant in Stafford to have lunch with the commander of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, and to tour Marine Corps Base Quantico this afternoon. Kaine told reporters that sequestration– the across-the-board budget cuts, designed to reduce the federal deficit, that take effect March 1 if Congress and the president don’t act–has been high on the list of concerns at every stop. The Department of Defense is facing a nearly $500 billion hit, which would impact everything from readiness, to equipment, maintenance and deployments. Kaine said 90,000 civilian defense employees in Virginia face 20 days of furloughs, a huge issue in the Fredericksburg area, which is home to many military contractors, along with active duty and retired service members and their families. Marine Corps leaders have said that, among expected impacts, the deployment of two expeditionary units could be affected. Kaine, who visits the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond Friday morning, says its not yet a foregone conclusion that the sequester will happen. “Those who say it is inevitable are those who are playing the blame game in advance. Let’s spend our time doing something constructive. This is not something conceptually hard to solve.”