Lockheed Martin jobs protected as House approves bill to avoid government shutdown

The House has approved legislation to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month and give the Pentagon some relief from a cash crunch that's harming military readiness.

The Continuing Resolution, which will protect about 300 jobs at a missile defense program in Central New York, will now go before the U.S. Senate, according to Mark Brumer, aide to Congressman Dan Maffei.

The huge spending measure, which was passed on a 267-151 vote, would fund federal operations through September. It leaves in place automatic cuts of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon ordered by President Barack Obama Friday night after months of battling Republicans over the budget.

The stopgap measure would provide budget relief for military readiness, veterans' health programs, embassy security and the FBI, but would put most of the rest of the government on budget autopilot.

The resolution includes $380 million to continue the Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS, which will help to protect about 300 jobs at Lockheed Martin in Salina.

â??After spending the last few weeks urging leaders in Washington from both parties to continue the MEADS program, I am pleased that funding to save hundreds of Central New York jobs was included in the Continuing Resolution that was passed by the House of Representatives today," said Maffei in a statement. "Creating more jobs and protecting hard working Central New York families are my top priorities. I will continue to do everything I can to advocate for MEADS and other programs that are critical to defending our nation and support good paying jobs in Central New York.â??

Last year, Congress denied a $400 million appropriation in this yearâ??s defense budget to continue work on MEADS. At stake are well paying jobs at the Lockheed Martin, which has been developing the anti-missile system for the past four years.

MEADS has been under fire since Army Secretary John McHugh, a former congressman from northern New York, told the House Armed Services Committee that the project was under performing. The pentagon is keeping the MEADS program afloat by allocating $25 million from money left over from last year's defense budget. Maffei says the project is not a waste of taxpayer money.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)