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Sen. Gillibrand urges lawmakers to avoid sequester

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MASSENA - While speaking with reporters at the Alcoa East Plant Friday afternoon, Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand expressed a strong desire to find a solution to prevent $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect March 1.

Mrs. Gillibrand believes these cuts, known as the sequester, will have a significant impact on the local economy. She pointed out the cuts could reduce hours and employment at Fort Drum, which may hurt the economies of outlying communities, such as Watertown and Gouverneur.

“These cuts are going to devastate the economy. We’ve got to find a better way” to reduce the federal government’s debt, Mrs. Gillibrand said.

The sequester is a result of the deficit-reduction deal struck by the White House and Congress in the summer of 2011. In an effort to reduce the federal debt, the two parties created a bi-partisan panel to create a plan to reduce the debt. by $1.2 trillion over roughly a decade.

The White House created a trigger called the sequester, which would enact across-the-board spending cuts if lawmakers failed to reach a deal after 16 months.

If the government fails to reach a deal by March 1, the sequester will impose significant cuts to education, social security, emergency services, defense spending and more. Officials say the cuts could result in lay-offs or reduced hours for hundreds of thousands of government employees.

“These are unacceptable cuts. They are cuts in all the wrong places,” Mrs. Gillibrand said.

The senator also noted the cuts would impact relief funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy and the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund. She urged lawmakers to strike a deal before the sequester takes affect next Friday.

“We need common sense. These are not Democratic problems or Republican problems. These problems are going to hurt everyone,” Mrs. Gillibrand said.

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