President Obama Signs Order to Begin $85 Billion In Spending Cuts: The "Sequester" Ax Has Fallen

11:40 PM, Mar 1, 2013   |    comments
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You may have hoped today would be the last day you'd hear the word "sequester," but no. It's here, it's real, and the cuts are threatening to hit like a sledgehammer.

We knew it was coming - $85 billion in automatic cuts - but until now, some hoped President Obama and Republicans would make a deal.  

President Obama is blaming the other side, "None of this is necessary. It's happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made."

Rep. Howard McKeon, the Republican Chair of the Armed Services Committee, countered, "I have never in my lifetime seen such a lack of leadership and truth telling emanating from the White House and our Commander in Chief."

WUSA9 talked to federal workers today. Jason Dilorenzo works for the FAA, "I wish it was planned out a little bit better, I wish that it was not such a political haggle." 

Blame game aside, what's really going to happen when the clock strikes midnight? We asked Paul Singer, the Congress and Politics Editor for USA Today. "It's not going to happen instantly and it's probably going to take a month or two before we see real impacts come out." 

D.C., Virginia and Maryland are ground zero for the sequester's effects. If you're one of the potential million government workers who could have to take unpaid leave, you already know the bite that'll take. Singer says some workers have already received their required 30 days notice. "Some agencies have started that process a couple of days ago, so maybe it's only 20 days now at this point. The agencies are going to do things to try and avoid furloughs by getting rid of other stuff first, like getting rid of excess travel, maybe not filling an open position." 

The hard truth is that less pay means less money floating around the local economy. Friday, the defense department sent a letter to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell informing him that they're cancelling 11 ship maintenance projects in Norfolk, Virginia, and cutting $146 million from army bases.

But as far as how the sequester will affect the average person? Singer says, "No one can tell you right now, what the actual impact is to you. They can tell you what the possibilities are, and they can tell you what the choices are, none of which are potentially good." 

One thing that won't be cut is lawmaker pay, though some staffers may lose their jobs. If you're sick of the words "sequester" or "sequestration," don't worry, you probably only have to hear it until the next crisis. That would be March 27th when the last budget is set to expire. Anyone remember "fiscal cliff?" 

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