Sequester looms, legislators speak out

GREEN BAY — Congress’s next big financial deadline – known as the “sequester” – is scheduled to kick in March 1. The cuts would take $85 billion out of the government's budget over the next seven months. And with less than two weeks until the deadline, Congress is off this next week.

Meeting with business leaders in Green Bay, Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, says job creation is a priority; especially when it comes to small business creation in the state. But she says that is in jeopardy.

"I fear that if these arbitrary, across the board cuts come into play on March 1, several of the things we're talking about during these visits will be in jeopardy," said Baldwin.

Domestic programs would be affected and the Defense Department could see cuts of about 13 percent. The White House released a list showing the threatened, potential effect, and it includes as many as 13,000 teacher layoffs.

Baldwin says the public needs Washington to get back to the normal business of the country.

"The people, the families, the small businesses and big businesses in this state and this country need to know that there's a regular way of doing things,” said Baldwin. “We're not going to live from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis anymore."

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Plymouth, Congressman Tom Petri, R-6th District, says he expects the sequester to happen.

"I think it's likely to happen,” explained Petri. "Although, there are negotiations going on in the House and Senate, as we are speaking."

Petri says increased borrowing, a rising deficit and lack of financial reforms are problems Washington must address.

"We're not playing games,” said Petri of the sequester and the difficult road ahead. “What we're trying to do is figure out some way – and it can't be done without support from both parties, the way things are set up in Washington – to get our financial affairs back in order."

Petri says if the sequester happens, he expects the House to take up legislation to minimize its immediate effects. He says if drafted and passed, the legislation can give agencies leeway in spending, allowing cutbacks in other areas.

FOX 11 contacted Senator Ron Johnson's, R-Wisconsin, office. A spokesperson told FOX 11 the senator was traveling and released this statement saying:

"Senator Johnson supports reducing the deficit and the debt, but he voted AGAINST the sequester and was critical of the process that produced it," the statement read. "He pressed for open debate to find deficit reduction with full disclosure before the American people, and attacked the back room, secret negotiations that ultimately resulted in the sequester." 

FOX 11 tried to get a response from Congressman Reid Ribble, R-8th District. Our calls were not returned.

Copyright 2014 WLUK TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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