House and Senate bills would give the Navy the power to hire shipyard workers in Bremerton while a broader federal hiring freeze remains in place.
Legislation introduced Tuesday in Congress would exempt shipyards, including the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, from a new federal hiring freeze.
The freeze ordered last week by President Trump does allow hiring for some positions considered essential to national security. But sponsors of the bill say it is unclear whether that would include the shipyard jobs.
Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, said that the legislation he introduced in the House would ensure that shipyard workers and other critical defense employees are not affected by the freeze.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a Senate co-sponsor of a companion bill, said that every day the freeze is in effect will hurt Navy readiness and hurt communities, like Bremerton.
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There are currently no specific projects at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and maintenance facility that will “immediately suffer” because of the hiring freeze, according to J.C. Matthews, a deputy public-affairs officer.
But the shipyard and maintenance facility lose about 800 to 1,000 employees annually due to attrition. A statement released by Mathews said “our ability to effectively hire and train our workforce to execute our future mission requirements is put at risk if the hiring freeze continues.”