Va. leaders: Congress must act to avoid coming cuts

Connolly says Congress has to take the threat of massive cuts seriously. (AP)

WASHINGTON – Automatic budget cuts of $1.2 trillion set for January unless Congress acts could mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region, and a lack of movement so far is frustrating some local lawmakers.

Sen. Mark Warner – a Virginia Democrat known as a fiscal conservative – says Congress needs to act before the Jan. 2 fiscal cliff, but it will take compromise on both sides.

“You can’t get there without some additional revenues, you can’t get there without at least a longer-term plan to reform entitlements,” Warner says.

Warner doesn’t think a compromise will come before the November presidential election. That worries Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, whose 11th District includes most of Fairfax and Prince William counties and is filled with federal workers.

“We need to be looking at spending with a sharp but discreetly wielded scalpel, not a meat ax,” says Connolly, D-Va.

Virginia could lose an estimated 240,000 civilian and military jobs if the cuts kick in, and thousands more could be cut in D.C. and Maryland.

Warner says the lack of a compromise is “fiscally irresponsible.”

“Quite honestly, that ‘Just say no’ crowd is one of the reasons we’re (having) problems in the first place,” he says.

Connolly wants changes to be made before the election.

“It is essential that the Congress take this seriously for the sake of the U.S. economy, ” he says.

Republicans in Virginia also have expressed concern about the impact automatic cuts will have on the military.

WTOP’s Hank Silverberg contributed to this report. Follow Hank and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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