PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They are the largest across-the-board federal spending cuts in history.
President Obama signed the order setting them into motion Friday night.
It’s called the “sequester,” cuts totaling more than $85 billion that will hit every federal agency except for Social Security and Medicare.
Now, some local congressmen are weighing in.
Congressman Mike Doyle admits he’s frustrated because like other members of Congress, he thinks they should be in Washington trying to avoid the sequester.
“Unfortunately, the President and House Democrats and Senate Democrats can’t negotiate with ourselves, so we find ourselves back here at home and the sequester is going to take place,” said Doyle.
Doyle says Republicans are refusing to budge on the President’s proposal to cut spending and reduce the deficit.
“We’re talking about tough cuts in entitlement reform and programs like Social Security and Medicare in return for a dollar’s worth of revenue,” Doyle said. “That revenue we’re talking about isn’t going to be used for new spending; it’s going to be used to reduce the deficit.
But Republican Congressmen Mike Kelly and Tim Murphy say government spending is one of the problems.
“I heard Ms. Pelosi talk about it. I heard Sen. Harkins talk about it, say this is really not a spending problem; it is a spending problem. We’re addicted to spending,” said Kelly. “We have to get in a program that brings down spending and increases revenue.”
“Quite frankly, what I’m hearing from the vast majority of my constituents is people out here recognize government cannot continue to keep spending like this,” added Murphy. “We have to make some cuts.”
The sequester is already impacting the area. The Westmoreland County Air Show, which includes the Air Force Thunderbirds, has been canceled next month. Doyle says there’s more to come.
“Research dollars are going to dry up at universities like Pitt, Carnegie Mellon. We’re doing cutting edge research that benefits the country a hundred fold,” said Doyle. “That kind of research will cease to exist. You’re going to see services disrupted overtime at airports. The smaller regional airports may lose air traffic controller.”
Right now, the only thing both sides can agree on is they need to get back to Washington and reach an agreement.