Francis Harris of Action Through Community Service Family Center in Dumfries, Va., worries about sequestration's impact on services to those in need

6:04 PM, Oct 23, 2012   |    comments
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DUMFRIES, Va. (WUSA) - The third and final presidential debate touched on an issue that's causing some concern in the D.C. metropolitan area.

Mitt Romney said : "And I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars, which is the combination of the budget cuts that the president has as well as the sequestration cuts. That, in my view, is - is - is making our future less certain and less secure. I won't do it."

President Obama responded,"First of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed. It's something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen."

Those mandatory cuts known as sequestration will kick in January Second, unless Congress acts. And according to a study out of George Mason University in July, that will translate to a loss of more than two million jobs nationwide.


Locally, that same study estimates it will cost Virginia more than 207 thousand jobs, Maryland nearly 115 thousand and D-C more than 127 thousand jobs.


But the sequester cuts could hurt the neediest people the most.
At the Action Through Community Service Family Center in Dumfries, people are worried about the cuts. Last year, ACTS helped 77,000 people who were hungry, homeless, jobless, or suffering from domestic violence.

About a third of the ACTS budget comes from state or county funds, which come from federal sources. If sequestration happens, ACTS leaders worry if they'll be able to help people in need.

"That's a huge amount of money. That's direct services to the people we're trying to help," said ACTS' executive director Francis Harris.


The sequester cuts total $1.2 trillion over ten years, evenly divided between domestic and defense spending. The defense community has rallied against the cuts. Economists predict 160-thousand jobs could be lost in D.C. area alone.


"I don't think you can make across the board cuts equally and I think it's going to affect some people much more than other people," Harris said.

The sequester was triggered and the cuts became automatic after the super committee failed to reach a deficit reduction deal.

Like the President, many are convinced the cuts won't happen, confident Congress will act after the election. But Democrats like Gerry Connolly, who Tuesday on the House floor tried to ask for the issue to be taken up now, have had microphones and cameras turned off before they were allowed to speak.

"What's going to happen is, after the election, not before it, sadly, we're going to have to deal with sequestration and a full plate of other issues that are quite serious. But I, like the president, am confident that we're not going to let sequestration happen because, frankly, there's something in there for both sides to hate," said Rep. Connolly.


Given the president's reassurance or call to action, as Connolly calls it, the congressman says he is convinced Congress will act after November 6th, no matter who is elected president.



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