Lawmakers Struggle to Reach Sequestration Compromise - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Lawmakers Struggle to Reach Sequestration Compromise

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The deadline to avoid massive federal spending cuts known as sequestration is now just two days away, and lawmakers in Washington are still struggling to find compromise.

To avoid the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts, Republicans and Democrats must first come to an agreement on deficit reduction. At a news conference Tuesday morning, GOP leaders had some choice words for their colleagues across the aisle.

"We have moved a bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their [expletive] and begins to do something," Speaker of the House John Boehner said.

University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato says the cuts are virtually guaranteed to go into effect Friday, and that's especially bad news for Virginia.

"Virginia is literally the number one most damaged state in the union on sequestration," Sabato said.

Virginia's defense industry will be impacted the hardest, and according to Virginia economist Chris Chmura, the ripple effects from widespread furloughs and layoffs could ultimately cost the state up to 200,000 jobs.

"To put that into perspective, we grew by about 40,000 jobs in this past year," Chmura said. "It would be a loss that would be similar to this last recession."

"I can tell you, I'm concerned about families in the commonwealth," Virginia Congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said. "I'm concerned because they're concerned about their future and the uncertainty that looms because of the sequester."

Cantor and his Republican colleagues say deficit reduction can only be accomplished by reining in federal spending. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine agrees spending should be part of a final plan, but also wants to include new revenues in the equation. Senate Democrats will propose a deal this week.

"If we can find a compromise in the Senate that is somewhat bipartisan, that will then go over to the House with enough momentum to help us avert the sequester," said Senator Tim Kaine.

House Republicans say they are ready to consider a plan passed by the Senate, but a compromise seems unlikely to develop before March 1. Lawmakers can reverse the spending cuts by striking a compromise at a later date, but Sabato says that is likely to take some time.

"I think we're going to have to wait a while. I don't detect any real desire for compromise right now," Sabato said. "It's going to take a lot of pain, people feeling that pain, and then people communicating that to their representatives and senators. Until that, nothing else is going to happen."

While Sabato thinks it could take a long time before lawmakers strike a deal to reverse these massive cuts, and though Virginia will take a serious hit as a result, other analysts say the state will bounce back.

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