By STEPHEN SINGER,  Associated Press

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy visited defense contractors Wednesday to denounce what he called damaging automatic federal budget cuts and said he expected smaller contractors in the state to be hit worst.

The junior Democratic senator toured jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney and helicopter maker Sikorsky. Both are subsidiaries of United Technologies Corp. The senator was scheduled to visit General Dynamics Corp.’s Electric Boat on Thursday.

The $85 billion in spending reductions are “very damaging automatic budget cuts” that threaten F35 fighter jets, he said. The program uses engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney.

“The problem is if we’re not buying at the rate that we originally planned, we’re putting our national security at risk,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he wants to return to Washington with “some more evidence and ammunition for our fight to turn back these automatic budget cuts.”

But United Technologies has said it’s not overly worried about the federal budget cuts.

Chief Executive Louis Chenevert told investor analysts last month that the company expects federal spending cuts to cost the conglomerate about 10 cents per share at most. The Hartford conglomerate expects earnings per share this year to be between $5.85 and $6.15.

Murphy said he believes the impact of the cuts, known in Washington as sequestration, will be strongest at smaller Connecticut contractors.

“Sequestration’s effects on the defense sector, whether it be the prime contractors or the supply chain, is immense,” he said. “We are very worried about the effect of sequestration, not just on Pratt & Whitney but on all of their suppliers, all of Sikorsky’s suppliers and all of Electric Boat’s suppliers.”

Allen Samuel, executive director of Aerospace Components Manufacturers, a network of Connecticut-based aerospace companies, said many companies are diversified, tapping into commercial aerospace contracts that will help lessen the impact of lost military contracts.

“I personally am not getting feedback,” he said.

President Barack Obama signed a spending bill Tuesday to keep the government running through the end of September. The measure leaves in place $85 billion in automatic cuts but eases the impact of the cuts to food inspection and college assistance for active duty military personnel.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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