Martin Di Caro
ARLINGTON -- Northern Virginia congressmen are responding to the findings by a D.C. think tank that automatic defense spending cuts would have a devastating short-term effect on the region's employment.
A study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments found nearly 800,000 civilian employees at the Pentagon would have to be placed on unpaid leave for a month should automatic cuts known as sequestration take effect in March as planned. The Pentagon faces an average $50 billion in budget cuts per year over a decade.
"That's a think tank analysis at this point. We would rather hear from the Pentagon's budget analysts before leaping to conclusions or even addressing that particular conclusion. Obviously the sequester is a threat to this area. We are dealing with it on a 24/7 basis. We are aware of the particular threat not only to federal employees but to many of our contractors," said Democratic Congressman Jim Moran.
Congress has an additional two months to work out a long-term deficit reduction strategy after reaching a short-term agreement to ward off the worst of sequestration right before the end of the year, a compromise that raises personal income taxes on the nation's wealthiest households.
When asked if the public should be confident Congress can strike a bargain to put the threat of sequestration to rest, Republican Congressman Frank Wolf responded, "So what if you take care of it for one more year. What about year two? Year three? It's a ten year thing."
"If sequestration goes into effect many people are going to be impacted, not only defense," Wolf added. "It really covers NIH, it covers the FBI, it covers USDA, all of the agencies. Too much emphasis has [been placed] on the defense side. The non-defense side gets equally hard hit."
Wolf said the root of the current problems was the decision by the Obama administration and Congress to reject the findings of the Simpson-Bowles Commission.
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