Last week, harmful budget cuts known as “sequestration” went into effect. The impact of these across-the-board reductions is beginning to be felt across the country, and specifically in the 8th District.
Sequestration cuts every federal employee, agency, and program, placing no priority on even the most sensitive and important government functions, from FBI investigations to air traffic control. Sequestration requires federal agencies to cut $85 billion from their budgets, but with little more than half of the fiscal year remaining, these cuts will be even more painful.
Much of sequestration’s impact will begin to be felt around April 1. But the 65,000 federal employees who live in the 8th District and tens of thousands of Virginians who work for government contractors may already be seeing the impacts of sequestration.
According to the Office of Management and Budget, most federal employees can expect to be furloughed, and some federal workers may be furloughed for as many 22 days before the end of the fiscal year on September 30 – reducing their monthly take home pay by 20 percent. Many government contracts are not being renewed, and new contracts are being delayed, resulting in companies shedding workers.
Dr. Stephen Fuller, a professor at George Mason University, reports that Virginia could lose up to 200,000 jobs.
Last week, I joined Senator Tim Kaine, Congressman Gerry Connolly, and representatives from U.S. air travel associations and employee organizations to highlight the impact sequestration would have on air travel. Once FAA, TSA, and Customs and Border Patrol furloughs begin, security checkpoint waits could increase by as much as an additional hour and thousands of passengers would miss connecting flights due to wait times at customs.
Some of the other far-reaching effects of sequestration include:
• Potential loss of 854 education jobs in Virginia
• 70,000 young children nationwide will be forced out of the Head Start program
• 2,100 fewer USDA food inspections
• 1,928 fewer small businesses loans
• 600,000 participants dropped from food stamps and WIC programs
• Delayed disability claims processing and payments
I voted against the Budget Control Act that created sequestration. It was a bad deal for our country and our region.
Some Republicans in Congress have lauded sequestration as a victory for the limited government movement. But with nearly 40 percent of our region’s economy tied to the federal government, Northern Virginians know the devastating economic impact of large and indiscriminate cuts. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the sequester alone will reduce GDP growth by 0.6 percentage points this year, risking a return to recession.
As Congress faces its next manufactured crisis, the expiration of federal funding on March 27th, I will continue working to support a package that contains both targeted spending cuts and revenue increases. Congress must resolve our long-term deficit and debt challenges without jeopardizing our economic recovery, compromising our national security or disrupting the operations of the federal government.