United States Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., paid a visit to Taunton on Tuesday, stopping at General Dynamics in the Myles Standish Industrial Park where he previously helped prevent the layoff of 100 workers.
“I was able to help protect jobs here, over 100 jobs, by making sure that (the Department of Defense) didn’t cut the WIN-T program, which is a vital program not only for our men and women who are serving but for this state and this business in particular,” Brown said before he began a tour of the General Dynamics facility at 400 John Quincy Adams Road.
In June, workers at General Dynamics faced layoffs when the Department of Defense proposed diverting, or “reprogramming,” more than $400 million from its Warfighter Information Network Tactical (WIN-T) contract with General Dynamics.
The entire battlefield communications system has been implemented since its inception in 2002 at the General Dynamics facility in Taunton.
The reprogramming needed congressional approval, and on July 26, Brown announced that after he met with top Army brass, the Department of Defense would no longer reprogram the WIN-T funding.
“I was able to draw the line in the sand and understand the issue, being in the military, and understand the viability and the importance of this program,” said Brown, a 32-year veteran of the Massachusetts Army National Guard. “I was proud to be there fighting for them.”
In an email, a spokesperson for Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren’s campaign pointed to Democratic lawmakers’ involvement in protecting WIN-T.
“Elizabeth Warren will work to protect programs important to our national security and local economy, such as WIN-T,” said Alethea Harney, a Warren campaign spokesperson. “Reps. Barney Frank, Bill Keating and Jim McGovern worked hard to preserve funding for the program, and Elizabeth looks forward to working closely with them and other members of the delegation to protect this program in the future.”
After a brief press conference, Brown toured the facility for his second time this year and later addressed a group of General Dynamics employees.
Members of the press were not allowed on the tour, but speaking after the tour, State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, R-Taunton, said Brown spoke to a crowd of more than 300 employees.
“They were very receptive and appreciative of all his efforts to pursue funding for WIN-T,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell, along with Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. and other local and state officials, had reached out to congressional leaders after hearing reports of the possible layoffs — including contacting Brown, Frank and Keating.
Speaking to reporters before the tour, Brown also took the opportunity to highlight what he felt were the differences between his and Warren’s polices on job creation.
“I think it’s important for the people to understand that a lot of the regulations that she supports and the high taxation she supports and government interference in people’s businesses that she supports are going to crush businesses,” Brown said.
“That’s a huge difference between Professor Warren and me — somebody who’s trying to create an environment to create jobs versus the job-destroying message she has,” he later added.
Harney responded by saying that Warren is also committed to creating jobs.
“As a senator, Elizabeth will fight to get people back to work right away, fixing a system in Washington that is rigged against small businesses, and invest in the conditions for economic growth — education, infrastructure, and research,” Harney said.
Other stops in Taunton
Before touring the General Dynamics facility, Sen. Brown also met with Hoye, Fire Chief Timothy Bradshaw and head of the firefighters union Jason Lawrence at City Hall.
The group discussed Taunton’s latest application for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants meant to provide funding for fire departments to increase the number of trained firefighters in the community. Taunton has not received the federal grant in a number of years, if ever, Hoye said.
“Sen. Brown was nice enough to stop by today while he was in the area, so we certainly appreciate that,” Hoye said. “…He’s assured us he will assist (with the grant) as best as he can.”
Hoye said he also met with Rep. Frank last week to discuss the grant application.
After touring General Dynamics, Brown stopped for lunch at George’s Hot Dog Stand in the Industrial Park.
Brown was elected to the Senate in 2010 to complete the term of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Tuesday marked the second day of Brown’s tour from Provincetown to Pittsfield in his campaign for the U.S. Senate. He also made stops in Rochester and Fairhaven on Tuesday.