Northern Virginia Congressmen Gerry Connolly (D-11th) called Congress "dysfunctional," as the midnight deadline on sequestration steadily approached.
"It's a dysfunctional Congress," agreed Jim Moran (D-8th), who spoke with Patch at a ribbon-cutting Friday in Lorton. "I think it ill-serves the people of the United States today. It's very frustrating, very disappointing. It's an institution that is not serving its functions."
Connolly didn't expect a last-minute compromise on $1.2 trillion in debt reduction, and he was right.
The U.S. military will be forced to cut $46 billion and domestic defense spending will be cut by $85 billion this year alone, he said.
"It is the consequence of a dysfunctional Congress," he said. "It's the consequence of ideological dynamics that have trumped common sense, compromise and cooperation."
Next week, the Republican-led House is expected to pass the Defense and Military Construction appropriations bills at the level they were passed for the last two years: $71.7 billion.
"In other words, you're increasing defense at the expense of the non-defense discretionary programs," Moran said, "but the majority of House Republicans will pass it and send it to the Democratic Senate; the Senate will either agree with that strategy, or, if they don't accept it we'll come to another government shutdown on March 27. If they do accept it it will go to the White House Office of Management and Budget to make the cuts.
"Basically, the strategy is to leave it to the Democrats or the White House to make the cuts," Moran said. "The Republicans will pass the bills at the pre-sequester level so that they are not held accountable for the cuts. So, that's the plan. It's all a matter of a verbal accountability from the various interest groups for the cuts that are going to happen."
Connolly hopes Congress will reach a compromise March 27, when it faces a resolution to fund the federal government.
"That will give us another opportunity, hopefully, to come to some sort of reasonable compromise that will address some of the worst aspects of sequestration," Connolly said. "There is a theory that maybe sequestration kicks in for a few months, and once the effects are felt, that members of Congress will come together and try to fix this. I hope that's true, but I wish that weren't necessary."