By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
Congressman Andy Barr met Monday morning with the Blue Grass Army Depot’s new commander to discuss the sequester cuts as well as the long-term viability of the installation.
Barr, R-Sixth District, said he pledged his “full and complete support” to preventing any sort of base closure after the destruction of the chemical weapons is complete some time after 2020.
Barr also was complimentary of the depot leadership's work with other Army leaders to appeal the depot firefighters’ mandatory furlough, which some feared could cause safety issues.
“I thanked the Blue Grass Army Depot for collaborating with my office to secure an exemption for the firefighters,” Barr said.
The depot firefighters and dispatchers enlisted Barr’s aid in March, and his office had been working since then to get the Army Joint Munitions Command to exempt them from furloughs.
“We said ‘Whoa, we’ve gotta save the firefighters (from furlough) because clearly that’s important to the safety of the depot and the surrounding community,” Barr said.
The firefighters’ exemption will cover all 11 weeks of the sequester furloughs throughout the Army. After that, a new federal fiscal year will start.
The furloughs began July 8 at the depot. Nonexempt civilian employees are expected to cut eight hours from each work week.
Barr said the House is currently marking up post-sequester bills to better prioritize where the budget cuts should be made for the next year. Barr noted that although the cuts were triggered by legislation, it is important to have “intelligent ordering of (funding) priorities to minimize the pain for the American people.”
Barr said his constituents have largely supported the sequester budget cuts.
“The people have encouraged me to force to the government to live within its means,” Barr said.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 624-6694.