MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon (R-California) along with Congressman Mo Brooks (R-5th) held a roundtable discussion with local leaders on Monday.
Congressman Brooks didn’t answer questions about what was discussed during the roundtable. He preferred instead to let McKeon address public policy.
McKeon’s message to the media included a recommendation layoffs may soon need to be considered in lieu of furloughs.
Madison Mayor Troy Trulock says the message to the roundtable, which he attended, was much the same, if a bit more blunt.
“I think it’s a very sombering, probably sad message that we received. I think folks are looking for a glimmer of hope, but it doesn’t seem to be there,” Trulock said.
Trulock says the roundtable at the Chamber of Commerce discussed a lack of direction going forward for Congress and in turn, the Tennessee Valley.
Members of the Republican House blame the Democratic Senate, and members of the Democratic Senate blame the Republican House.
But Mayor Trulock says the truth we have to face is more difficult than contentious party politics.
“You get the impression that it’s party politics, but I think it’s just a tough decision across the board. We need to reduce spending, and it’s tough,” said Trulock. “How do we do that across the country? If it was an easy solution, I think they would have come up with it by now, but it’s a tough decision.”
When Congressman McKeon spoke to the media Monday, he said his personal business sense had him leaning toward layoffs over furloughs. But Mayor Trulock says that message already appears to be a part of public policy as well.
“Furloughs will probably not be looked at for 2014,” said Trulock. “They’re doing some potential reductions in personnel both on the government side and the contractor side.”
It seems layoffs are becoming more of a plan than an idea. Now the real questions are all about how many there will be and who they will hit.
Valley leaders are doing what they can to fight back.
Trulock elaborates, “What we need to do is what we’ve been doing. Our Tennessee Valley works very hard together to try to bring in new jobs.”
Solidifying current employers remains high on the agenda, specifically, keeping NASA going full-bore.
Trulock explains, “As we face cutbacks in the defense world, we try to help make sure NASA is fully supported, again, as a Madison City, Madison County, and Huntsville City. The three of us work together to say we need to make sure we keep NASA fully funded. Because if we lose some jobs in the defense world, at least we have the jobs in the NASA world.”
Of course, keeping other industries thriving means a lot too.
“Our job, and of course what Mayor Tommy Battle has done a phenomenal job on, is diversifying, so it’s not just defense. It’s not just NASA. It’s HudsonAlpha. It’s cyber. It’s energy,” said Trulock.
Mayor Troy Trulock admits that defense, Redstone Arsenal included, will face even more financial setbacks, like the cuts that caused furloughs in the first place.
And that’s why it’s so important to give these people a place to work.
“If you diversify your economy, cuts in one area — you can hopefully offset those by making improvements in the others,” Trulock said.