CAPITOL HILL: The chairman of the board of the Aerospace Industries Association, Pratt & Whitney President David Hess, expressed guarded optimism today that industry is getting through to Congress about the danger of sequestration.
“We’ve been very active — Marion [Blakey, AIA's CEO], and the AIA staff, and the member companies of AIA — [conveying] the message as to what the impacts of sequestration are going to be,” Hess said at a talk in Congress’s Rayburn Office Building this afternoon. “Our voices are being heard, as was evidenced by the hearing yesterday.” (Click here to read about the unruly progress of yesterday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing, where Hess testified).
Asked about the odds for avoiding sequestration, Hess said, cautiously, “I’m hopeful. I don’t see a path forward today. But I’m hopeful Congress does what we’ve elected them to do” and passes a solution to sequestration. “It’s a tall order, but we’re hopeful.”
“I’m heartened that there seems to be a growing awareness of the significance and magnitude of the impacts [of sequestration, and that] this is not an issue that could be easily solved next year or after the election,” Hess said. In fact, he said, ” we are effectively feeling the impact today. Given the uncertainty we’re constraining hiring, we’re constraining capital investments.”
Asked if Pratt & Whitney and other companies could instead wait and see what Congress does, he replied, “We don’t have the luxury of doing that. The law on the books today says this is going to occur on January 2nd, it’s not contingent on anything…. As a leader of a publicly held company, we have a fiduciary responsibility.”
In brief, said Hess, “I don’t have the luxury of hoping that sequestration doesn’t occur.” One looming problem, however, is “we’re not quite sure how to plan for it, honestly,” he said. “We’re looking for guidance from the administration, from OMB… so we can plan, [but] we’re having a tough time doing that today given the lack of clarity as to how those cuts will play out.”