Northwest military bases, universities, national labs and parks await guidance for how to implement automatic federal budget cuts. The so-called “sequester” is scheduled to take effect on Friday, March 1. Not much else is certain beyond that including who in the region could feel the pain immediately, if anyone.
The commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific says every scenario he’s contemplated for the automatic spending cuts hurts readiness. After touring Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma on Friday, Admiral Samuel Locklear said one of the most visible impacts will be furloughs of civilian defense workers, which could start in April.
“You take a 20 percent cut in pay automatically, you come to work 20 percent less. This filters through everything from our maintenance, our flight line capabilities, our shipbuilding industry,” Locklear explained. “All those things that are important to people here in the Puget Sound are decremented because of this. There’s going to be an impact.”
“I’m hopeful that the impact is only near-term and we’ll get through this,” added Locklear.
Other big recipients of federal funding in the region include our research universities and public health departments. Washington’s Department of Health has calculated that it will have thousands fewer vaccinations to hand out to underinsured children, to give one example.