VIRGINIA BEACH -- Buckle up! It could be a bumpy ride over the next year, according to four local members of the House of Representatives.
They're sounding warning alarms about the continuing budget challenges in Washington and the impact sequestration could have on the region in the 2014 Fiscal Year.
Congressmen Rob Wittman, Scott Rigell, Bobby Scott and Randy Forbes delivered a less than upbeat report to members of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Thursday, held at the Westin Hotel at Town Center.
"When you're talking about sequestration, you're talking about a process that could have a devastating effect on the economy of Hampton Roads," said Scott, (D)3rd District.
The Navy was forced under sequestration to trim $10.7 billion in 2013, and must cut $14 billion more in 2014. That could mean a 50 percent reduction in planned ship repair availabilities in 2014 if Congress doesn't intervene and permit the military branches to move money around to pay for needed maintenance.
"All of us in the industry are very concerned," said Executive Director of the Virginia Ship Repair Association Bill Crow, which includes some 230 member companies and employs more than 40,000 workers.
"And the people are very, very concerned. They want to make sure that our United States Navy remains ready and that we are putting Sailors on the best ships possible that we can send to sea. And if the cuts come about we won't be able to do that," Crow said.
The lawmakers said a better way must be found to fund military operations rather than simply going from one continuing resolution to the next.
"When you have to look the CNO in the eye, and you see the direction we're going for national defense, we have got to stop and change this and we have got to change this now," said Forbes (R)4th District.
"Where we are today in our national military readiness is unconscionable," said Wittman (R)1st District. "Where we are, we cannot afford to go there."
Rigell, (R) 2nd District, pledged to work to find common ground.
"I am personally, absolutely committed to reaching out, making sure that we advance sound solutions because we owe it to our men and women in uniform and we certainly owe it to the next generation of Americans," Rigell said.