Murray, Cantwell sign letter urging Naval shipyards exemption from federal hiring freeze

WASHINGTON. D.C. — Washington state’s two U.S. senators, along with six Senate colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis Jan. 26 calling for Department of Navy shipyard civilian employees to be exempt from the recent presidential memorandum signed by President Donald Trump that freezes federal hiring.

Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both Democrats, joined New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and five other senators in warning that a hiring freeze “may be particularly harsh for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton because of the size of the workforce, the number of vacancies and the importance of the shipyard to Washington state’s $30 billion maritime economy,” a news release from their offices stated.

In the letter, the senators wrote that “We believe a hiring freeze may have a severe and adverse impact on the ability of the Navy and public shipyards to meet critical national security requirements and we urge you to immediately exempt all Department of Navy shipyard employees,” they stated.

“The civilian men and women who support the Navy provide mission-critical maintenance to ensure the Navy can meet security requirements around the world, and should thus be granted an exemption.”

The signees said while the presidential memorandum states that the freeze is not intended to impact national security, freezing the hiring of civilian employees who will support critical fleet maintenance “will directly undermine national security.”

The letter also was signed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Angus King (I-Maine) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

The senators represent states with large Naval shipbuilding and fleet maintenance facilities.