White House, defense firms discuss automatic spending cuts

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 6, 2013 12:48pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior White House officials met with chief executives from top defense contractors on Wednesday to discuss the impact to their businesses of deep automatic federal spending cuts slated to take effect on March 1, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

The meeting came the day after President Barack Obama urged Congress to come up with some short-term spending cuts and find new tax revenues to postpone the $85 billion in across-the-board "sequester" cuts, which economists have said could hurt the economy.

Top Republican lawmaker John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, said on Wednesday that he would oppose any delay in the sequester without other spending cuts and reforms.

The meeting with Obama's top economic advisers included executives from Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Pratt & Whitney, ITT Exelis, Huntington Ingalls and privately held Aurora Flight Sciences Corp, Carney said.

"The focus of their conversation was the potential devastating impact of the sequester going into effect," Carney said.

For example, Northrop Grumman has about 20,000 small businesses that supply the massive contractor - businesses that also would be hurt by the spending cuts, he said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Vicki Allen and Cynthia Osterman)

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