By Corey Boles
WASHINGTON--A group of Republican senators wrote to leading defense contractors seeking information about what the industry is doing to prepare for the impact of $600 billion in scheduled spending cuts starting in January.
The lawmakers sent a letter asking for answers to a handful of questions to 15 major defense-contracting firms including Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), Raytheon Co. (RTN) and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC).
"Significant questions exist regarding the implementation of these automatic budget cuts and how they will impact federal government operations, our economy, and the defense industrial base," the letter sent by the lawmakers said.
It was sent by six Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the top Republican lawmaker on the influential panel.
The letter asks for the total number and dollar figure of contracts the companies have with the Pentagon that could be cut as a result of the coming belt tightening. It also asks what likely impact there would be on job losses and spending on research and development by the companies.
Republican lawmakers have been warning for months the cuts could imperil the military's ability to defend U.S. interests at home and abroad. They have pushed for the cuts to be spread across the rest of the federal budget.
The cuts were part of $1.2 trillion in budget cuts included as part of a debt deal last year. The spending reductions were aimed at compelling a committee of lawmakers to agree to a wider deal to rein in federal spending. The panel failed, however, leaving lawmakers facing the prospect of implementing the cuts or taking action before the end of the year to change the law requiring them to do so.
The other half of the cuts would come from the rest of federal spending that funds many domestic programs including efforts to combat poverty and provide assistance to elderly Americans.
The $1.2 trillion in cuts would take place over the next decade, with the first round of cuts set to be implemented in January.
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