NORFOLK - As Congress battles over the budget, thousands of people in Hampton Roads are waiting for the ax to fall -- on their jobs, on their benefits, on their paychecks.
About a dozen members of Virginia Organizing gathered outside Sen. Mark Warner's (D-VA) downtown Norfolk office to protest the $85 million across-the-board sequester cuts they say will hurt families and help big corporations.
The group wants Sen. Warner to change his stand on proposed changes in Social Security. They say the program doesn't contribute to the national debt and should not be considered in budget negotiations, but the sequester would decrease the benefits received by seniors.
Wednesday afternoon, members of the Tidewater Virginia Federal Employees Metal Trades Council will hold an informational picket outside of gates 1 & 2 of Naval Station Norfolk. The group says it will be protesting sequestration "and all the bad things that come with it, and the lack of support we are getting from our elected officials."
The protest is from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In an e-mail to 13News, the Council said its members are affected by the furlough. "We are looking at a $4319.00 pay cut for the 22 days of furlough," wrote Rebecca Luce, the business manager for Local 376 and the vice president of Tidewater Virginia Federal Employees Metal Trades Council.
The impasse has already had an impact on Hampton Roads, delaying the overhaul off USS Abraham Lincoln at Newport News Shipyard and several companies issues WARN notices that jobs could be in jeopardy. Under federal law, any company planning to lay off 50 or more workers is required to notify state officials 60 days ahead of time.
And earlier this month, the Pentagon said that furloughs for Defense Department civilian employees can begin April 26 unless Congress acts to end sequestration.
This comes as the Senate appeared ready to approve a huge, bipartisan spending bill to keep the government running through September and ruling out the chance of a government shutdown later this month.
The meatpacking and poultry industries seemed likely to win a vote offering relief from furloughs of inspectors that threaten to intermittently shutter plants as the measure moves ahead through the Senate and back to the House. A vote in the House Thursday would send the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The House resumed debate on the budget for next year and beyond. Republicans are pushing a plan that promises sharp cuts to federal health care programs and domestic agency operating budgets as the cost of balancing the budget in a decade.
Associated Press contributed to this report.