Republicans accused the Obama administration Tuesday of intimidating defense contractors and seeking to hide job losses from pending cuts to the Pentagon’s budget in order to help the president’s reelection campaign.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other Republicans pointed to guidance issued Monday by the Department of Labor that said it would be “inappropriate” for defense firms to issue layoff notices to employees before the election due to the pending cuts.

“The president doesn’t want people reading about pink slips in the weeks before his election, so the White House is telling people to keep the effects of these cuts secret — ‘Don’t tell anybody,’ he says, ‘keep it a secret’ — until, of course, after the election,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Democrats responded by accusing both Republicans and the defense industry of playing politics themselves with threats of job losses and layoff notices. Republicans have used the layoff threats to bash President Obama for not acting now to prevent the pending cuts to both the Pentagon and non-defense domestic spending.