Former Vice President Cheney made a rare trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to give House and Senate Republicans a dire assessment of what $500 billion in cuts to the Pentagon budget would mean for national security.
Cheney’s appearance came amid a concerted lobbying push from the defense industry, which is trying to persuade Congress to act now on the sequester by warning the cuts will lead to massive job losses.
Lockheed Martin CEO Bob Stevens, who will testify before a House panel on Wednesday, has threatened to issue layoff notices to all of his company’s 123,000 employees just before the November election. And the Aerospace Industries Association unveiled a new study Tuesday that claimed 2 million jobs could be lost due to the automatic cuts that are scheduled for both the defense and domestic sectors.
Defense hawks hope that the flurry of activity will put the issue in the public eye and convince Congress to act.
Cheney, who served as Defense secretary under President George H.W. Bush, told the Senate GOP conference that sequestration could have a damaging long-term impact on the military by killing major weapons programs, according to senators at the meeting.