Sequestration: Federal workers, contractors brace for spending cuts

      There is growing concern among federal workers as the government moves closer to sequestration. Government agencies would be forced to make significant cutbacks. A large rally is scheduled on the issue in the District Tuesday.

      With no deal in sight before the March 1 deadline, federal workers and government contractors are bracing for $984 billion in spending cuts over nine years to federal and domestic programs.

      From military training in the field to medical research in labs nationwide, members of Congress are now warning taxpayers to be ready. Congressmen from both parties say they think sequestration is coming.

      Federal agencies, contractors and workers in Ballston say the biggest fear is the unknown.

      Larissa Cioaca of Maryland isn’t worried she’ll lose her job since she doesn’t work for a contractor or the government, but she’s worried the automatic cuts will still hurt by slowing the local economy.

      “Columbia, Maryland is highly dependent on federal workers…and certainly if across-the-board cuts are being implemented then that might affect the employment base and the kind of revenue that comes back in the community.”

      POLITICO reports domestic agencies are under a gag order not to talk about the cuts so workers say they aren’t being told what to expect.

      “We are kind of running under,” says Chuck Estabrook of Alexandria. “We don’t really know what’s going to happen after March 1st.”

      Still, some are optimistic the Washington area will weather this storm.

      “I mean, we’ve been through a lot worse over the last few years and I think people underestimate how much is going on outside of the government-based economy around D.C.,” says Rob Pegoraro of Arlington.

      But many experts warn the cuts will have a major impact on our region. More than 1,500 government employees are expected at a rally Tuesday to protest the possible cuts, while inside the Senate Armed Services Committee will hear from top military officials how the Pentagon cuts will be carried out. Both sides say there’s still time for a deal, but the prospects are dimming.