Republicans on Tuesday accused the White House of trying to “intimidate” defense companies into keeping silent about major job losses if automatic military spending cuts take effect early next year, after the administration said Monday that it would be “inappropriate” for employers to warn workers of layoffs.
Defense industry officials were caught in the middle, trying to weigh the requirements of a federal law that says they must give employees 60 days’ notice before major layoffs versus the Labor Department, which said Monday that it doesn’t believe the law applies in this case.
“The stakes are very high and there are still questions on everyone’s minds. Is this [Labor Department guidance] definitive? Is this something we can now take without fear of judicial contradiction? I don’t think the answer to that is yes. There are still too many questions,” one industry official said on the condition of anonymity.
The automatic defense cuts, which are looming because a deficit supercommittee failed last year to strike a deal, have become a major political headache for President Obama and Congress.
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