Sequester has president, opposition battling as locals brace

Congressman Dent says Congress will take up the sequester issue again next week

Published: 7:00 PM EST Feb 18, 2013   Updated: 6:13 AM EST Feb 20, 2013

A sequester S-O-S.

Across the board budget cuts totalling $85 billion are looming in Washington and that has local social service agencies preparing for the worst.

One director of many programs say these cuts along with a weak economy will actually cost taxpayers more--because once people are homeless there will be an increase in crime.

The Lehigh County Conference of Churches provides rental assistance to a lot of people in our area.

Statewide, 200,000 people rely on agencies like this one and now that money may be going away.

"One can ignore numbers, it's hard to ignore faces with real life persons behind them," said Christine Nelson, executive director of the Lehigh County Conference of Churches.

Nelson says those faces will be out on the street--all because political experts say Congress can't work with each other to agree on spending cuts.

The sequester makes broad cuts to a lot of defense and domestic programs.

"The tax rates went up at the end of the year," said Congressman Charlie Dent. "There will be over $600 billion in new revenue. Now it's time to deal with the spending side."

Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent says he voted twice for more responsible cuts and not the sweeping $85 billion that will take place on March 1st.

Dent says President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate needs to come up with a different plan.

But he is not holding out hope that will happen.

"I believe at this point that the sequestration will likely take effect. Again barring some breakthrough next week," he said.

"These folks are living in many cases on, the single ones, $600 or $700, $800 a month," said Christine Nelson.

Nelson says she can't believe working together is so hard for people on Capitol Hill.

"I wouldn't last very long in my job if I did not talk to my leadership and my funders," she said.

Congressman Dent says Congress will take up the sequester issue again next week.