With the deadline two weeks away, north country Congressman Bill Owens doesn't think Congress will reach a deal to avoid the automatic budget cuts to the military known as 'sequestration.'
"The folks I've been talking to, Democrats and Republicans, all indicate that there doesn't seem to be a plan at this point that would allow us to avoid sequestration," Owens said.
Sequestration is an additional $1.2 trillion in cuts to government programs agreed to in 2011, with half of the amount coming from the Department of Defense.
The theory in 2011 was that the cuts were so big, so painful, Congress would find another way to reduce government spending. The theory was wrong.
It's not clear what effect sequestration will have on Fort Drum, if any. It could mean cuts to the post's operating and maintenance budgets, though a child care center on post that was in danger in closing has already been spared.
"Sequestration, that's going to affect day to day operations and we don't really have a good understanding of that," said Beth Fipps, who chairs the Fort Drum Regional Liason Organization (FDRLO).
Separate and apart from sequestration, the military is reducing its size over the next several years. An Army study of Fort Drum and 20 other installations concluded that, at worst, Drum could lose 8,000 soldiers, and at best gain about 3,000, though officials have been at pains to say neither the worst nor best is likely to happen.
The FDRLO has prepared a response to the Army study, but it was announced Friday the deadline for submitting comments has been extended to March 21.
Friday, May 27, 2016, Watertown, NY