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Friday, February 22, 2013 - 23:11
EL PASO, Texas — If it goes through, it would mean dramatic changes to people's lives in the Borderland.
Sequestration would cut budgets for Homeland Security, the military and other federally funded agencies.
Both U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce (R) of New Mexico and Beto O'Rourke (D) of Texas said sequestration would be devastating for the Borderland and should be avoided at all costs.
Listening to them Friday, it sounds like they're both resolved to make it happen.
Homeland Security, Fort Bliss, Border Patrol, Headstart, the Housing Authority ... the list goes on and on.
This is a small sampling of agencies that would experience cuts that could change the way they operate and change the lives of everyone who works for them.
"Sequestration would be terrible for El Paso it would mean that we would furlough up to 11,000 civilians at Ft Bliss," said Rep. O'Rourke. "It means that we would furlough Border Patrol Officers and Customs Inspectors at our ports of entry, which would mean we would have even longer wait times".
All are huge employers in the Borderland.
Furloughs at Fort Bliss, White Sands Missile Range, and Holloman Air Force Base could cut civilian paychecks 20%.
"We must get our budget balanced," said U.S. Rep. Pearce. "That's what's causing this disruption in the entire economy".
"It would be a negative input to our local economy and it would be terrible for our economy, so we want to do everything we can to avoid sequestration" said O'Rourke.
How did this start and how did it get so far?
"The problem with our budget, we spend about 3.6 trillion a year and we bring in about 2.4 trillion," said Pearce. "We're a trillion and a half short. The government is printing money to make it work and so we do need to solve it but I don't think it should have been solved this way".
The Budget Control Act of 2011 brought threats of cuts to military spending, if a balanced budget was not met.
Sequestration was really meant to be a sort of threat or encouragment to make sure a budget was made.
Few thought it would come this far.
"We passed those a year and a half ago we never thought it would get to this point," Pearce said.
"This is a disaster that the community cannot afford to endure and would be terrible for our country," O'Rourke said.
A disaster that most in the government, the military and the public hope to avoid.