McCarthy weighs in on DOD freeze

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

While many government functions remain in flux during apparent efforts to “drain the swamp” by the new federal administration, thousands of local employees for the Department of Defense and government contractors are waiting to hear how the hiring freeze will impact their jobs and the work at China Lake.

Following through with campaign promises to reevaluate government institutions, President Donald Trump instituted an immediate hiring freeze on Jan. 23 by signing a memorandum. The action left room for exemptions for those working in the military, national security and public safety, but no official word clarified what that meant to the workforce at China Lake.

A week after Trump signed his order, NAVAIR Deputy Comman-der Gary Newton addressed the issue in a message to employees. “Every presidential transition creates a level of uncertainty as the new administration reviews existing policy and sets its agenda,” he wrote.

“We know you have questions and there are a number of scenarios to be addressed. We are in close contact with [the Department of the Navy] and will share additional information as soon as we receive it.”

Representatives from both district and capitol offices of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy assured local constituents that they were working on the issue, but did not respond to media inquiries with details or clarification.

This week, McCarthy spokesmen confirmed that the congressman planned to send a letter this week to senior Navy and DOD officials.

“Our community is a vital and proud contributor to our nation’s military readiness,” said McCarthy in a statement this week to the News Review.

“The state of the art work done at China Lake and Edwards keeps our men and women in uniform safe and maintains our military edge around the world. While we are proud of the technical achievements, our greatest source of pride is with the men and women who work every day in service of our country and make our community a great place to live.

“While this executive order is still being implemented and clarified, I am proactively reaching out to the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, to ensure that this order does not negatively impact our civilian workforce that is directly responsible for continuing the important testing and advancement our military readiness relies upon.

“The president’s executive order should be focused as a check on the growing bureaucracy, not a pullback in national security investment.”

Local officials have praised McCarthy for advocating on behalf of China Lake in Washington, D.C. (See related story: http://www.news-ridgecrest.com/news/story.pl?id=0000006663).

Story First Published: 2017-02-10