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Kinzinger: Sequester likely

Representatives call for cooperation to avoid across-the-board spending cuts

STERLING – Unless Congress comes up with an alternate deficit reduction plan, $85 billion in indiscriminate spending cuts over the next 7 months will begin.

It's known as sequestration, and U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos and Adam Kinzinger say the cuts would have devastating effects on the area, and nation.

But Kinzinger, R-Manteno, said the sequester will happen.

"There is not much dialogue going on," he said. "The House has done its job. The Senate needs to come to the table."

Most federal programs will be impacted. The long-term unemployed could see a benefit cut. Federal subsidies for school construction, clean energy, and state and local public works projects could be pinched. Low-income pregnant women and new mothers may find it harder to sign up for food aid.

"Every item in the discretionary budget, ... everything takes a haircut," said Kinzinger who represents the 16th Congressional District, which includes all of Lee, Ogle and Bureau counties.

Eventually, furloughs of federal employees could lead to delays at airports, disruptions in meat inspections, fewer services at national parks and the like.

If the congressional impasse lasts into the fall, the number of Head Start slots could shrink.

Bustos, a freshman Democrat from East Moline, represents the 17th Congressional District, which includes all of Whiteside and Carroll counties.

She said she has "always opposed sequestration because of the negative impact it could have on vital interests like the Rock Island Arsenal, the National Guard in Peoria, defense companies in Rockford and on middle class families and communities across Illinois' 17th Congressional District," she said in a release.

She pointed to her recent introduction of the Government Waste Reduction Act, a bill that aims to eliminate waste and overlapping resources. It would establish an independent, 15-member government waste reduction board that would develop legislative proposals that “implement the government accountability recommendations and send them to Congress," Bustos has said.

Spokesman Colin Milligan said Bustos is working with Republicans to find a solution to the budget crisis. She and Kinzinger had an event in Rockford last week at SupplyCore, a defense contractor, to talk about the need for cooperation between the parties.

In an interview, Kinzinger, R-Manteno, said changes are needed to programs young people will use in the future, including Social Security. He said he would not propose specific changes, saying that would lead to attacks.

Regarding military spending, Kinzinger said he believes the Pentagon should be held accountable for spending. He noted, however, the rising cost of personnel in the military.

"Not only are we cutting, the cost of personnel is crowding out what we can spend on everything else," he said.

Kinzinger said the budget cuts from sequestration will impact the 16th District most in the area of heavy manufacturing, especially facilities that have government contracts.

"Everybody's going to have to sacrifice," Kinzinger said.

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