Emergency Declaration Impacts Portsmouth Shipyard

A congressman from New Hampshire is voicing concerns over the President’s emergency declaration and what it may mean for the 700,000 jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Rep. Chris Pappas toured the shipyard Wednesday and spoke with workers who say they’re worried that the president is about to take money from their projects to fund a border wall.

“We wanted to make sure to draw attention to what’s happening here at the shipyard so that we can protect this asset,” Pappas said.

The shipyard is now caught in the crosshairs of the border wall showdown in Washington.

When President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, he said previously approved military construction funds could be reallocated to pay for his border wall.

That means about $160 million for major projects at the shipyard are up for grabs.

“From my perspective, we’re taking money away from real national security interests to fund artificial national security interests,” said IBEW Director Paul O’Connor.

Pappas and O’Connor agree that to interrupt the critical work being done at the shipyard wouldn’t only impact jobs on the base but would be a huge blow to national security.

“We shouldn’t be using workers as political pawns and that’s exactly what happened during the shutdown and we need to prevent it from happening here,” Pappas said. “We need to make sure these dollars continue to flow where they belong and that’s to projects right here at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”

Richard Smith has spent the last twenty years working at the Shipyard, making sure the US Navy fleet stays afloat.

He says if the president yanks any money from local military projects, the Shipyard facilities won’t get the necessary upgrades planned for this year.

“It’s going to backlog stuff and we don’t want that to happen,” he said.

And Smith says it’s not just a matter of national security, it’s also about people – the 7,000 people who rely on the shipyard to make a living.

“All the families here, I’m worried for them, for their future,” Smith said.

The shipyard contributes about a billion dollars a year to the local economy.

So, if the shipyard loses funding, that likely means lost jobs and lost revenue for nearby businesses.

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