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Brindisi calls on Senate to scrap House's civilian resources cut in defense bill

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (right) with Ed Abounader.

Utica-area Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, who is also running for Congress, is calling on the U.S. Senate to stop a potential cut to the Department of Defense that could affect civilian jobs in Rome. A 25 percent cut to civilian resources was included in the House’s National Defense Authorization Act that passed last week.

There are 960 employees at Rome Defense Finance and Accounting Services, which pays the Army’s bills. Ed Abounader, the president of the union representing those employees said cuts could mean losing jobs.

“It’s a great job for the area," Abounader said. "It’s certainly an economic boom to Rome. We want to make sure always to be diligent that stuff like this doesn’t happen and we certainly need political support.”

That is why Mohawk Valley Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) said she cosponsored an amendment in the defense bill that said it is not Congress’ intent to cut jobs from Defense Finance and Accounting Services. Her office said the aim is to cut waste and duplicative programs. 

But Brindisi, who is challenging Tenney, said he would have tried to eliminate any cuts.

“These kinds of things are like a cancer, if you don’t catch them when they’re small, they’ll grow and then you can’t stop them," Brindisi said. "We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to use our voice to speak out against these potential cuts in Rome because we don’t want to lose one job at this place because it’s going to hurt our economy in the central New York region.”

Brindisi said Tenney's amendment was smoke and mirrors that would do nothing to stop the cuts.

"You got to speak out against these loudly and clearly, not be a rubber stamp for your party," Brindisi said.

The Senate still has to pass its own version of a defense bill. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said he will fight to block the provision that puts jobs at risk.

Tenney's full statement is below.

“From leading a letter to protect DFAS from President Trump’s hiring freeze to passing an amendment last week that protects the DFAS workforce from cuts, our office has fought day in and day out to protect this important asset and the 960 employees in Rome. Throughout the NDAA process our office stayed in close contact with Mr. Abounader and the AFGE union that represents DFAS to ensure they knew we were aggressively advocating to protect our Rome workforce. I’ll continue to be a fierce advocate for the hardworking employees of DFAS and continue to deliver real wins that help our community and protect upstate jobs.”

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.