Battle, Strong Urge People To Contact Lawmakers About Sequestration, Budget

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Tennessee Valley faces stern repercussions from sequestration.  Estimates from the U.S. Army put the cuts to Redstone Arsenal at $17 million.

Local leaders are focused on the March 1 sequestration deadline and another upcoming date as well.  On Monday, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong spoke about sequestration at the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce.  The two recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to talk with Congressional leaders.

They headed a group to put boots on the ground, so to speak, and pressure the people who make U.S. policy.

"We met with eight Congressional delegations, and in those meetings with the Congressional delegations, our whole message was we need a budget," said Battle.

The two didn't focus just on the sequestration deadline coming up this week.  Instead, they pushed for a full budget.  That deadline is March 27.

"We found that our economy is being stymied by subcontractors that right now are holding cash close to vest, not doing hiring, not doing future planning," said Battle.  "They're doing that, because they don't know what to expect out of the federal government."

The message from the Chamber -- sequestration cuts can hurt the Valley, but we can bounce back if we can get an actual budget.

"Companies, the defense department, you give us a budget, we've got a smarter warfighter out there right now," said Strong.  "We understand what's at task.  We can adapt to whatever that is.  But a budget is critical."

That means the Chamber and those who gathered there will keep their eyes turned toward Washington, D.C. for weeks to come.

Chairman Strong and Mayor Battle say it's time for lawmakers to handle their finances.

"One thing that everybody will have a tendency to look at is kicking the can down the road," said Battle.  "Let's put another continuing resolution in place for another 90 days or another 180 days, and then we have to face this problem again."

The pair asserts if Congress decides to push back decisions on the sequester and the budget, it will hurt contractors who need the stability of a finished budget to make decisions.

To make sure Congress takes the needed action, Strong and Battle put a call to action to people in the Tennessee Valley.

"They are not having that many calls about budgets, about sequestration, about continuing resolutions, and about how we fund our government," said Battle.  "So that is the call that we have now, is to bring this to the forefront of their attention."

Unless people turn up the spotlight on the budget process, Congress could push it back again.  And while the sequester could hurt the Tennessee Valley, these leaders say more indecision could crush us.

"If they pass something, even if there's an effect on us, we're adaptable.  Our businesses are adaptable.  Our commands are adaptable," said Battle.  "We can adapt, but right now, it's almost as if our small businesses, our support businesses, or businesses that work in the Department of Defense, the governmental sector, they're somewhat in limbo."

The message from the Chamber - get these decisions made one way or another.

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