NEWPORT NEWS - President Barack Obama will visit Newport News Shipyard Tuesday, three days before the deadline to reach a budget deal or trigger automatic spending cuts that will have a great impact on the Hampton Roads economy.
In an email obtained by WVEC.com, the White House notified city officials this morning that the president will "highlight the devastating impact that the sequester will have on jobs and middle class families if Congressional Republicans fail to compromise to avert the sequester by March 1.
In just 8 days, a series of automatic cuts could go into effect that would severely affect companies like this one that depend on the defense industry, and its workers. This company has a supplier base in all 50 states, many of which are small businesses that rely solely on Newport News Shipbuilding for their business," the notice stated.
Newport News Shipbuilding is Virginia’s largest industrial employer with more than 21,000 workers.
Already, the sequester threat forced the Navy to delay the overhaul of USS Abraham Lincoln at the yard, which was due to begin mid-month.
Among other things, not getting a deal would cancel USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group's deployment in 2014, the Blue Angels’ performances later this year, including the September show at NAS Oceana and would defer repairs to the guided missile destroyer USS Porter, which was damaged last year.
The sequester cuts, totaling $1.2 trillion over the course of a decade, were agreed to in the summer of 2011 in a deal to raise the debt ceiling and were intended to be so unpalatable that the White House and Congress would find a way to avert them by developing an alternate long-term deficit reduction plan.
Details of the visit weren't released, but officials tell WVEC.com arrangements are underway to accommodate a presidential visit.
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-4th Dist.), chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, said of the president's visit, "I knew over 17 months ago how devastating sequestration would be to our nation and our region. When it came for a vote, I voted no. The President, on the other hand, signed sequestration into law. He even said last year that it would not happen. Now that our nation is days away from these devastating cuts, I'm pleased he is visiting our region. I hope it is the first step towards working with the President to overturn the bill that he signed into law."