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Hagan, Jones address looming sequester deadline

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- We are quickly approaching the sequester deadline set to hit Friday. If the deadline hits without lawmakers reaching an agreement, the nation will be forced into billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts.

As leaders continue to point fingers, we're trying to find out from our representatives in Washington what ideas they have to avert the latest fiscal crisis.

"I don't think the middle class should not keep paying the price when Washington can't compromise or work together," Sen. Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina) said.

With just days to go from the looming sequester deadline and $85 billion in cuts, Sen. Hagan says she's willing to do whatever it takes to reach an agreement.

"The furlough notices are going out as we speak, I believe, and that's to about 22,000 civilians in North Carolina," Hagan said.

The Obama administration says those furloughs Department of Defense workers in the Tar Heel State will cut the department's gross pay by $117.5 million.

The threatened cuts could also hit classrooms. North Carolina school systems are looking at loosing $25.4 million for funding education, the White House says, putting 350 teacher jobs at risk.

The state will also face more than $400,000 of grant cuts that assist law enforcement and about $900,000 in cuts to respond to public health needs.

Sen. Hagan says Congress needs to act now.

"One of the things I've noticed my last four years in the US Senate is when a deadline hits we do tend, in many cases, to take action," she said. "Personally that is not my way to govern. I think we need a much longer term approach."

Rep. Walter Jones (R-3rd District) is not hopeful we will see an agreement by Friday's deadline.

"The House would take the Senate bill and bring it over to the House, probably change it some, see if we could pass. If we could pass it, then we could go into conference with the Senate, but right now I am not very optimistic," Jones said.

We've tried the past two days to talk with Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-7th District) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina).

Neither has made themselves available. Their staffs did issue statements:

Rep. Mike McIntyre: "We must get government spending under control, but I strongly oppose sequestration which indiscriminately makes across-the-board cuts without considering the disproportionate impacts being caused!! That's why I voted against the bill that put the trigger for it in place. Our national security, jobs, education, health care and transportation will all be negatively impacted when this measure goes into effect. We must work together to find a bi-partisan solution to address this immediate issue."

Sen. Richard Burr: "The federal government has a spending problem, and we need to begin to cut the size and scope of the federal government. I would prefer more prioritized cuts that would address real waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending, but this plan was crafted by the President and rather than indicating he will work with Congress to avoid sequestration, he is moving the goal posts by now asking for a tax-hike as well.

"Sequestration was the President's plan all along, he intends to see it go through, he and his cabinet have sole discretion at determining which programs get cut and by how much, and any negative impacts it carries with it will be the direct result of his unwillingness to work with Congress to find a more responsible solution."

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