Obama to visit Newport News shipyard Tuesday as sequester deadline nears

President Barack Obama is returning to Virginia, making a stop Tuesday in Newport News, days ahead of a deadline for Congress to avoid deep, automatic spending cuts.

The president will visit Newport News Shipbuilding to highlight the impact that the sequester would have if not averted, according to a White House official. The president's visit will put him in a defense-heavy part of a state that could be particularly hard hit by the automatic spending reductions.

Gov. Bob McDonnell this week wrote to the president telling him that the reductions are already having an adverse effect on the state and, when fully implemented, could force it and other states into a recession.

He asks the president for immediate attention to address “the potential devastation that looming cuts to defense due to sequestration will have on national security and on the economic well-being of citizens of the commonwealth.”

He also lays out the potential impact that the spending cuts could have on defense-heavy Virginia, including a loss of about 82,000 direct jobs at federal agencies and contractors and another 82,000 indirect jobs. Northern Virginia would absorb more than 60 percent of the losses, Hampton Roads about 20 percent and Richmond about 12 percent, he writes.

McDonnell’s letter came on the heels of another, sent Friday, by a bipartisan group of members of the state’s Congressional delegation.

With the deadline looming for Congress to avert deep spending cuts that could deal a particularly hard blow to Virginia, the state’s congressional representatives wrote to Obama and leaders in the House and Senate “to show unified support for immediate action to avert the devastating impacts of sequestration.”

The members write that the state, “with its long history of contribution to our national defense and to the federal government, will bear a disproportionate amount of the pain imposed by these arbitrary cuts should they come to pass.”

They cite a George Mason University study that estimates that nearly 10 percent of the 2.1 million jobs that would be lost as a result of sequestration would come from Virginia.

“The consequences of a failure to avert sequestration will ripple through all parts of our state economy and could lead to a hollow military force and a government unable to adequately respond to the needs of its citizens,” they write.

“We stand ready to work hand-in-hand to negotiate an agreement to avert these cuts that threaten grave consequences for the commonwealth, our federal government, and our national security.”

Sens. Mark R. Warner and Timothy M. Kaine, both Democrats, signed the letter, as did Reps. Robert J. Wittman, R-1st, Scott Rigell, R-2nd, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-3rd, J. Randy Forbes, R-4th, James P. Moran, D-8th, Frank R. Wolf, R-10th, and Gerald E. Connolly, D-11th.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th, did not sign onto the letter but a spokeswoman said in a statement that Cantor sponsored, and the House twice passed, legislation to replace the sequester cuts “with responsible reforms.”

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