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Va. Leaders Still Wary Of Defense Spending Cuts After Meeting With Gates

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In Virginia, several federal lawmakers and Gov. Bob McDonnell say they left a discussion with Defense Secretary Robert Gates feeling a little bit better about the impact military spending cuts will have on Virginia's economy.

It's not clear whether the discussion will change Gates' plans.

A proposal to reduce spending on military contractors by 30 percent over the next three years is of particular concern in Northern Virginia.

Congressman Jim Moran says during the meeting, Gates made clear that the cuts would target mainly certain types of contractors.

"He's looking at professional and support services," Moran says, "people who are generally speaking carrying out functions that used to traditionally carry on within the Defense Department."

Also at issue: the planned closure of Joint Forces Command, or JFCOM, a major base in the Hampton Roads area which employs close to 3,900 people.

McDonnell says that although Gates assured Virginia's representatives that a complete loss of jobs at JFCOM isn't likely, the politicians would still like more proof the planned cuts and base closure make military and economic sense.

"We could not find any documentation or justification for these particular reductions that disproportionately affect the Commonwealth of Virginia," McDonnell says.

The proposed reductions are part of a Defense Department effort to reduce spending by $100 billion. Gates says he'll finalize his plans by the end of the year.

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