Some leaders seek middle ground

Published 10:36 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Congressional leaders reacted to President Barack Obama’s Tuesday call for compromise in solving the sequestration crisis.

Congressman Scott Rigell, a Republican who joined Obama at the event, said he appreciated Obama meeting with him beforehand but remains concerned.

“I shared with the president my concern that the administration has not provided a definitive legislative alternative to sequestration,” Rigell said in an emailed statement. “Though the conversation was substantive, my concern on these critical topics remains.”

Email newsletter signup

Like Obama, Rigell stressed the need for a middle ground that puts Americans first. He said the position of the Republican Conference not to consider any agreement that generates any revenue is as concerning as the president’s failure to provide an alternative.

“Given the two positions, sequestration, an alternative described by both Republicans and Democrats as reckless, now seems inevitable,” he said. “As a result, hardworking Americans, including many who call Hampton Roads home, will suffer. National security will suffer as well. Given the severity of the consequences, this is unacceptable. I continue to call on the president and leadership from both parties to put what is best for our country ahead of all else.”

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who just visited the shipyard last week, said he was pleased with what he has heard about the event.

“I’m pleased President Obama and Representatives Rigell and (Bobby) Scott visited Newport News Shipbuilding today in Virginia to help give voice to the thousands of workers who stand to be affected by sequester cuts and continued budget uncertainty,” he said in a press release. “I’m also encouraged by the calls made there today — by both legislators — for a balanced approach to solving this self-inflicted crisis.”

Congressman J. Randy Forbes, whose district includes Suffolk, has introduced a bill to remove the Department of Defense from the sequestration plan.

“Sequestration cuts eclipse any other national security thread facing our nation,” he said. “I voted against sequestration, and I’ve warned about these cuts for 18 months. This bill represents an opportunity for lawmakers to blunt sequestration’s debilitating impact on national defense.”

In a joint statement by Congressmen Rigell, Forbes and Rob Wittman, the lawmakers said the cuts have become “a political weapon in the arsenal of both parties.”

“As commander in chief, (Obama) should use the power of the White House to stop the harmful effects of sequestration,” the statement read.