Monday marked the beginning of the first full work week of the federally mandated sequester cuts. 800,000 civilian Defense Department employees are now preparing for the worst.
"I'm living paycheck to paycheck," says Maria Noju.
Half of the $85 billion in cuts will fall directly on the Pentagon.
"This is not going to be an apocalypse. It's going to hurt,” President Obama said in his announcement of the cuts.
Our region’s economy is expected to be hit by sequestration and it won’t just be federal workers and contractors feeling the pain, but all the area’s stores, restaurants and businesses that depend on them as customers.
It was busy Monday at the UPS store owned by Matthew Reid, but a big chunk of his business comes from Pentagon employees.
He’s hopeful that even with unpaid days off they will still have packages to send and need his post office boxes. But he’s frustrated Congress can’t come up with a better way to handle the budget mess.
“I’m a pretty conservative type of person so I wouldn’t have a problem with them cutting spending,” says Reid. “It’s pretty dumb in my opinion that they can’t come to any compromises.”
At Pentagon Row, store owners say they are seeing lots of sequestration stress and it’s impacting spending. At the Vitamin Shoppe, some customers facing furlough have asked for part-time work.
And while he still has a smile for his friends, he says he’s not happy with members of Congress.
“The message is we know who’s holding up progress and we’re going to answer that question for you on voting day,” he says.
Nearby at Irish Pub Sine, half-price burgers have been a big draw. The cash registers are still ringing, but regular patrons like Damian Wallace say they’re watching their wallets.
Wallace is a TSA subcontractor waiting for word on sequestration cuts.
“Being that I’m a subcontractor, I’m definitely worried about how I’m going to feed my family going forward,” he says.
Some believe an estimated 7 million school children will also be directly affected. The cuts are expected to roll back funding for education below what it was 10 years ago.
"But what they're saying is we want big oil over little kids in Head Start. That's a values debate that we have to take to the public. I don't think that's a blame game," said Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the U.S House of Representatives.
In April, Federal Aviation Administration furlough notices will go out, which means that is when the impact could start to be felt at the nation’s airports.
How many days federal employees will go without pay varies. POLITICO surveyed agency heads and found that the Bureau of Prisons will furlough workers for 12 days. At the Environmental Protection Agency, workers will be furloughed for 13. At the Department of Agriculture, workers will be furloughed for15. For most of the federal employees impacted by sequestration, the cuts will mean losing about 10-percent of their paycheck.