Kaine visiting area to discuss sequestration

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WVEC.com

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 6:31 PM

NEWPORT NEWS -- Virginia leaders are bracing  for the potential economic impact of sequestration.

The federal spending cuts set to kick in on March 1 would sharply reduce military spending and have big consequences for the region.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is visiting Newport News Shipbuilding where many are concerned about what it will mean for them.

Kaine is hopeful that sequestration can be averted, but he wants to visit the shipyard to talk about the very real possibility that it could delay maintenance and construction projects.

Meanwhile, workers are preparing for the possibility of large reductions.

Arnold Outlaw, president of the United Steelworkers Local 8888, speaks what thousands are likely feeling.

"This scares us, this scares us," said Outlaw.

He says he is worried that with so much at stake, the politicians won't come up with a solution soon enough.

"We were told last year that we got work through 2020 and now all of a sudden it looks like everything is pushed back and we're worried yes."

Mike Petters, president and CEO of Newport News Shipbuilding's parent company, Huntington Ingalls, took his concerns to Washington, where he met with Senator Mark Warner, who's trying to work on a plan.

"We will have an alternative that replaces sequester with a mix of revenues, some additional defense cuts not as many as in the sequester," said Warner.

The Navy has already announced plans to delay work on the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Work on the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford continues, but with time running out, the rank and file are left to wonder if things will get better or worse.

"A lot of us work week to week, you know one check this week, one check next week and that's going to be a real burden for a lot of us if anything happens that would cut that off for us," said one worker.

In addition to his visit to Newport News Shipbuilding, Senator Kaine will also tour Naval Station Norfolk.

Congressman Bobby Scott is holding a community forum in Newport News Tuesday night to discuss the economic impacts of sequestration.

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