Sequester puts jobs in WNY on the line

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Many areas in Western New York could take a hit if Congress fails to reach a deal on the sequester.

Wednesday night, the U.S. Coast Guard braved the elements to work with and train first responders from six other local departments in an ice rescue drill on the Buffalo waterfront.

Petty Officer Tyler Benson said, "Just so that we can see how each other operate and get on the same page so we know how to save someone's life in the event that someone were to go through the ice."

But if the Sequester takes effect, the U.S. Coast Guard budget could lose $400 million, and Coast Guard patrols may be reduced by 25 percent. And what about international bridges in Western New York?

MORE | Learn about the Sequester, what it is, and what it's impacts will be here

Public Bridge Authority Executive Director Ron Reinas said, "In terms of operations it could have a big effect. Obviously there will be some pretty dramatic cuts."

Rep. Brian Higgins warned, "Customs and Border Patrol would be forced to eliminate 2,700 officers and 5,000 Border Patrol agents."

That could mean up to four-hour waits on the bridges.

"Increased wait time will discourage Canadian consumers from visiting Western New York and that is business we can't afford to lose. I call on the House to take immediate action to repeal the Sequester," Rep. Higgins said.

At the Niagara Air Reserve Station, 500 civilian workers could be furloughed without pay one day a week for the whole summer.

Major Andrea Pitruzzella of the 914th Tactical Air Wing said, "We've contacted local employee assistance agencies and are preparing to have them provide us with financial counseling resources or stress management classes should that become necessary."

"The President is threatening an apocalypse if he doesn't get his second tax hike in just eight weeks," said Rep. Chris Collins. "And I believe the American public are seeing this sideshow for what it is, a blatant attempt to raise taxes again on American families, small businesses instead of addressing our spending addiction."

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