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Northern Virginia Already Feeling Potential Effects of Sequestration

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Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver talks to business owners who are already feeling the effects of looming spending cuts set to take effect March 1 unless Congress intervenes.

The White House laid out a long list of the damaging effects of “across the board budget cuts" called sequestration Friday. It said if Congress lets those automatic spending cuts take effect March 1 it will mean furloughs and layoffs affecting teachers, federal agents and prosecutors. Government agencies like the IRS, the FDA and the Department of Agriculture would suffer.

This could have a huge impact in northern Virginia, where residents won’t have to be federal employees to feel the effects.

"Sequestration: Worse than you can imagine," said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

"The single greatest threat to national security is budget uncertainty," said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

Warner is adamant about sharing the blame of sequestration, saying it's not just politicians at fault for the potentially crippling spending cuts. He blames major companies in the defense industry, too.

"So now when it's 'Oh my God, it's really going to happen, what are you all going to do?' Well, it would have been great if you would have been in the fight in more than an atta boy way, over the last couple of years," he said.

The looming cuts already are forcing northern Virginia's government contractors to react.

"They're already laying people off,” Kaine said. They're already furloughing employees. They're already reducing their capital purchases."

More than 207,000 jobs would be cut across Virginia. About 71,000 of those are outside of the Department of Defense.

Brad Antle, president and CEO of Salient Federal Solutions in Fairfax, is one of many government contractors feeling the crunch from their government clients.

"They're already starting to not only develop plans, but take some actions that are reducing the level of spending," he said.

It's not just his industry that's going to be affected, he said. It's all of northern Virginia.

"You can't affect that many jobs in our region and not see it affect every other part of the community," Antle said.

"It's the trickle-down effect,” Knowledge Consulting Group CEO Dusty Wince said. “It's going to affect every company to those working in the restaurant business."

Wince’s government contracting company is tired of uncertainty.

"It's the only thing that's certain right now is that there is uncertainty and you have to be able to deal with it," he said.

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