HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) - Shorter work-weeks, and smaller paychecks -- furloughs started Monday for more than 600,000 civilian defense workers.
Fear of what will happen next is already evident in a couple of ways amongst civilians who work for the Department of Defense. Many that WAVY.com spoke with Monday were afraid to speak publicly about their dismay about the furloughs, but even worse, many are worried about making ends meet on a budget that has now been reduced by 20 percent for the year.
In Hampton Roads alone, there are about 40,000 more people who will also be losing one day's pay each week -- that means losing an average of a $1,000 a month for 11 weeks.
Many who are being furloughed have a plan figured out on where to cut back, but it's not just the workers feeling the pinch. The Hampton Roads economy could be in jeopardy as well.
"47 percent of the economy depends on the military," Metz said. "How many thousands of thousands of people are not going to get paid," said Retired Admiral Fred Metz
The Anti-terrorism Office at Navy Region Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk is a restricted area. But that didn't keep one of its deputy officers from being furloughed.
"I guess the powers that be determined that it's not really necessary for me to be here one day a week," said Deputy Antiterrorism Officer James Shirley. "I think it would be fairly significant for anybody that was faced with an opportunity to lose $500 a pay day."
"...and people say I don't understand this impact of sequestration. I don't see anything because it's happening from the inside out," said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert last week in Virginia Beach.
"...but today we affected the outside," said Metz. "Because that person that's not getting paid for a day is going to think twice. I'm not going to go out and eat tonight, you know? I'm not going to buy that car..."
The truth is, we still don't know how these furloughs are going to affect the region in the long-term. That's because even though the furloughs are scheduled to run only though September, that timeline could be extended.
What was in the beginning, frustration with Washington is quickly turning into disdain among people in a region heavily dependent on defense spending -- the same people who depend on their elected officials to get this thing solved. As it stands right now, there is no indication of a compromise and no end in sight to sequestration.
"...we got sequestration looking at us at 2014, 2015 and down the road...", said Virginia 2nd District Congressman Randy Forbes.
The democratic controlled Senate passed their version of a budget in March -- first time they have done so in four years. The problem is, House republicans refuse to appoint conferees to allow the senate's budget into conference. Until that happens, the budget goes nowhere and sequestration and furloughs will be a part of life in Hampton roads.
"The anti-compromise crowd are keeping this sequester alive and they're not only hurting individuals, they're hurting the over-all economy and they're hurting our defense," said Virginia Senator Tim Kaine in a phone interview with WAVY.com.
"I am all for sitting down at the table and putting things on the table to discuss, but if you look at the Senate's proposal, it's not bending on a couple of things, it's bending on everything," Forbes said.
The senate proposal Forbes is referring to is the budget approved by the senate last March.
"After years and years of the other side (republicans) saying, 'The senate won't pass a budget, the Senate won't pass a budget,' now we passed a budget and they refuse to allow it to go into conference," said Kaine.
"It is incumbent upon the House to go to conference.This is what's referred to as regular order," said Virginia 4th District Congressman Scott Rigell.
Than why won't Rigell's republican colleagues in the House support him and allow the budget process to go forward?
"To put it in perspective, it's about $2 billion in savings. And this is a department (DoD) that's funded over $600 billion ...," said Rigell.
Senator Kaine told WAVY.com Tuesday he is hopeful a letter from the Secretary of Defense to the Armed Services Committee paints such a dire picture of what the military will look like after 10 years of sequestration, that it will spark congress to action.
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