U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida)
Tampa, Florida - The chance to avoid a series of harsh, automatic spending cuts has come and gone. It's over. President Barack Obama met with Democrats and Republicans at the White House Friday, but nothing has changed.
The forced budget cuts are scheduled to go into effect before midnight, Friday March 1. The cuts will impact just about every corner of our community such as Head Start and Meals on Wheels. It will mean longer security lines at the airport and our military will be impacted.
Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) says military furloughs are set to start in 30 days, because federal law requires that a 30 day notice be given. Senator Nelson says the furlough can be a maximum of 20 percent of their salary or one day of a five day work week for up to 22 weeks.
Slice Pizza & Grinders restaurant at 5831 S. Dale Mabry Highway is right down the road from MacDill Air Force Base. With 31,000 Department of Defense civilian workers in Florida alone being furloughed, the sequester cuts could have an impact on the bottom line here if military members start cutting back on their spending.
Jack Caramello owns the restaurant and says, "From what I've heard from my customers is that they're basically taking off one day a week, so if they're not here on base one day a week, they're not going to the local establishments."
That could take a slice out of Caramello's profits. With 12 employees on his payroll, dine-in customers are 90% of his business. Caramello is concerned Congress hasn't been able to stop the sequester cuts.
"They kicked it down the road last time after it already was supposed to happen. So hopefully they'll do it again or maybe really get it together and do away with it altogether."
Senator Nelson is so frustrated that he and Senator Claire McCaskill want members of Congress to know what it feels like to be furloughed. Nelson says, "Well, if they're gonna be docked on their salary, then the members of Congress doing nothing to straighten this out ought to be docked as well."
Nelson added, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."
He and Senator McCaskill have introduced a bill so Congress will have their paychecks docked at the same percentage as any federal worker being furloughed.
Caramello likes the idea. He says, "I agree. I say don't give them another paycheck until they get a budget."
Meanwhile, Nelson is urging the public to voice their opinions. He says, "I hope the people will raise hell with their elected officials."
Tammie Fields, 10 News