Deadline to sequestration looms; Jobs in San Diego may be affected

Budget cuts to automatically take effect March 1

SAN DIEGO - With massive budget cuts set to automatically take place March 1, many are asking why Congress is not doing something about it.

"I'm as frustrated as you they sent us home," said newly elected Rep. Scott Peters of San Diego's 52nd District.

Peters said Congress is in recess as the budget deadline, known as sequestration, will trim $500 billion in across-the-board cuts unless Congress acts to pass a budget.  

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are already on record as saying if there is a crisis, the armed forces may not be able to respond.  

Aside from operational and training budgets, jobs are at risk, especially in San Diego, where naval contracts for ship repairs are also at risk.  

"There are more than two million jobs at risk across the country, and 225,000 of them are in California," said San Diego Port District Vice Chairman Bob Nelson during a pier-side news conference Monday at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

The Navy could cancel maintenance contracts for as many as 30 ships due to sequestration.

Pressed for a solution, Peters said, "There are 85 newly elected representatives; we need to band together to push the leadership to act. We were elected to stop fighting and start fixing."

Small businesses that cater to military contracts are already seeing a slow down.  

"The higher ups that issue them are holding back; we're seeing that already," said Jeff Payne with San Diego Protective Coatings and Powder in El Cajon.  

Payne said 40 percent of its business is through military contracts.  

"It's a highly specialized field, but we'll have to look for business elsewhere if these deep cuts happen," he said.

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