Automatic spending cuts would impact ORNL, Y-12

9:31 PM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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Automatic budget cuts set to go into effect in just two weeks could impact thousands of people in Oak Ridge.

The $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, known as the "sequester," are set to kick in on March 1 unless Congress can agree on a way to avoid them.

Democrats want a mix of tax increases and more gradual spending cuts. Republicans want to replace the sequester solely with other spending cuts.

Leaders at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory say no one knows for sure what will happen if sequestration does happen, but Lab Director Thom Mason said in a post on his blog Wednesday, ORNL's funding could be reduced by five to eight percent if Congress doesn't agree on a budget. That could translate to $70 to $100 million.

Mason said some of those losses would be offset by cost-cutting measures the lab has already made.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees Y-12 and a Texas plant, said the automatic cuts could impact more than 5,000 contractor jobs. The NNSA says if sequestration happens, its work with nuclear materials would be delayed because it would have to make layoffs or hour reductions.

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