HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) - Hampton Roads weathered the first round of cuts to the defense budget relatively well, but if congress can't come to an agreement on how to lower the national debt by the end of the year, the next cuts could devastate the local economy and have huge implications for national defense.
House Republicans approved a bill that would take money from social programs to avoid cutting more funds from the defense budget. It is a bill almost certain to fail with the Democratic majority in the Senate which could trigger automatic cuts to the defense budget through a process called sequestration.
"It describes a process by which an across the boards reduction of approximately $600 billion would come out of the national security accounts," Craig Quigley, Executive Director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance said.
Craig Quigley is the Executive Director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance. He says that equates to about $55 billion cut from the defense budget next year alone.
"We would feel that in Hampton Roads in a reduction in goods and services contracts," Quigley said. "In a reduction perhaps of civil servant contracts and uniform military personnel.
"We have heard numbers as high as 150,000 to 200,000 active duty individuals that will be given pink slips," Rep. Randy Forbes, (R) 4th District told WAVY.com. "And the Secretary of Defense has said that this could cost as many as 1.5 million jobs across the country."
The Air Force could lose its ability to buy stealth aircraft like the F-22 Raptors at Langley Air Force Base and the Navy could lose some of its most important shipbuilding vendors forever.
"If you ask the Air Force they will tell you that puts them on the ragged edge," Forbes added. "That's their words. Ask the Navy, we'll have fewer ships than we've had in a hundred years."
"We would feel it in Newport News Shipbuilding in the construction of new vessels," Quigley said. "We would feel it in the various private yards that do ship repair work on the Southside."
As devastating as the budget cuts could be to the local economies not only in Virginia but across the nation, a poll published Thursday reports that a majority of Americans would cut the defense budget even more than what is being debated now. Congressman Randy Forbes questions the accuracy of that poll.
"Do they really want a national defense that's going to be dismantled in this manner? I think most Americans are going to say no."
Congressman Forbes will find out. Monday night. he along with other members of Virginia's congressional delegation will host a town meeting in Chesapeake at the Chesapeake Conference Center to hear what you think and find out how this all might effect your well being.
It's all part of a nation-wide tour called "Defending our Defenders."
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory toured the Bonner Bridge area Friday morning after officials shut it down due to safety concerns.
A 24-year-old man is accused of fleeing as troopers tried to initiate a traffic stop in Hampton Friday.
Hampton fire crews battled a residential structure fire early Friday morning.