NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — President Obama visits Newport News Shipbuilding Tuesday to discuss the federal budget crisis, where he can focus on the harm to the Navy's mighty carrier fleet and the nation's one-of-a-kind shipyard.
He might want to reserve a few words for the Army base just up the road and ground-pounders in general.
A recent report from the U.S. Army, provided by USA Today, shows a state-by-state breakdown of the financial damage that would result from the current budget uncertainty. The news is not good for Virginia, home to the Pentagon, as well as Fort Eustis in Newport News, which operates jointly with Langley Air Force Base in Hampton. Other Army installations include Fort Lee in Prince George County, Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Fort A.P. Hill near Bowling Green and Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County.
The Army says cutbacks to its presence in Virginia would mean a $1 billion economic loss, the fourth-worst among the 50 states, trailing only Texas, Alabama and Pennsylvania.
The picture on jobs is even worse. More than 25,000 Virginia jobs would be affected, either by furloughs or layoffs. That ranks Virginia second on the Army's list, behind Texas.
By far, the worst hit at a military base is at Joint Base Langley Eustis. The report lists a $233 million reduction for that location. The next worst is $84 million at Fort Lee.
An Army spokesman could not be reached this weekend to describe the cuts further. And because the $233 million is attached to Joint Base Langley Eustis, it isn't known whether the Army's action would also affect Langley, which has already canceled its air show and taken other cost-saving measures.
However, the report lists the overall impact to Virginia if sequestration takes effect on Friday, and if the military continues to operate under last year's continuing budget resolution, which hamstrings the services with less money and poorly-allocated accounts.
In terms of jobs, the state will see 22,932 civilian furloughs with a loss of $137 million in pay. Fort Eustis has about 3,500 civilian employees, according to previous estimates. Close to 450 private sector jobs will be lost from reduced investments. Another 365 jobs will be lost from decreased construction.
Nearly $200 million in projects will be canceled relating to construction, restoration or modernization.
Army contractors Northrop Grumman, BAE Radford, General Dynamics C4 Systems, NITEK Inc. and LMI Consulting would feel the effect of Army cutbacks. Those companies are located in northern, central or western Virginia.
All told, Virginia's Army personnel includes 30,690 full-time military, 14,263 Guard/Reserve and 70,540 civilians.