O’Malley, McDonnell partner to protest defense-related cuts in federal sequester

Governor Bob McDonnell, R-Va., and Governor Martin O'Malley, D-Md., appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday with other governors do discuss potential solutions to the impending sequester.
February 24, 2013

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) pledged on national television Sunday to work together to convince Congress to head off the worst of the sequester cuts that would affect the defense industry in their two states.

“This sequester stands to wipe out a lot of hard-fought job gains in Virginia and in Maryland,” O’Malley said during an appearance on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” “So for whatever our differences might be, we understand that this is an economic threat, this is going to hurt a lot of moms and dads in our region who go to work every day.”

McDonnell, who appeared on the program along with O’Malley and two other governors, said the federal sequester, set to take effect Friday, “was put in place to be a hammer, not a policy.”

“Our major concern, that Governor O’Malley and I have, because we’re such defense states. . . is you have to cut, because we’re in bad shape. . .but don’t put 50 percent of the cuts on defense, our men and women in uniform, while we’re still fighting a war in Afghanistan,” McDonnell said. “Find another way to do it, and get it done now.”

O’Malley and McDonnell both recently finished stints as the chairmen of the Democratic Governors Association and Republican Governors Association, respectively, and disagree on many things. But Sunday, they both stressed their ability to work together on regional issues affecting both sides of the Potomac.

O’Malley and McDonnell were in Washington on Sunday as part of an ongoing gathering of the National Governors Association.

On the program, O’Malley congratulated McDonnell for finding a “balanced approach” in the session of the Virginia General Assembly that concluded Saturday with a major transportation funding plan.

O’Malley also acknowledged that mental health restrictions in a gun-control bill being considered by Maryland lawmakers “very much mirror what Virginia has done” in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

As first proposed, O’Malley’s bill took a less aggressive approach to getting guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

“There is always a balance to be achieved when it comes to this mental health issue,” O’Malley said. “We don’t want anyone who shouldn’t be in possession of a gun to have one. . . .You also don’t want to discourage people from going to seek treatment.”

During the “Face the Nation” segment, O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 presidential bid, also was asked by guest host Major Garrett about past criticisms of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), frequently mentioned as Republican presidential contender.

O’Malley took another swipe.

“I just don’t see where there’s a comeback in New Jersey,” O’Malley said, citing the state’s relatively high unemployment rate and downgraded bond rating. “If anything, they’ve fallen back, and that’s not effective governance.”

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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