JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As federal employees wait to find out if they'll face furloughs, people across the country are dealing with the effects of the sequestration.
Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sat down with First Coast News Saturday at his in-laws home in San Marco to discuss the sequestration and it's impact on the First Coast.
Nelson said the local military and Mayport will be hit the hardest.
"Just in the department of defense, there are 31,000 jobs that will be furloughed in the state of Florida," Nelson said.
The Army has announced that soldiers will not be able to apply for tuition assistance, due in part to the sequestrations.
Travelers could soon see slow downs at Jacksonville International Airport. The Federal Aviation administration says it may furlough air traffic controllers and close towers. The TSA threatens to furlough screeners and create long lines.
Nelson also said the dredging project to bring nuclear carriers to Mayport could see some delays as well.
"If we don't get some resolution on these cutbacks, that will be a project that will be suffering some setbacks," Nelson said. "But we can avoid this. I mean it never should've been this way. A sequestration was never intended to take effect."
So who's to blame? Democrat lawmakers are faulting Republicans, and Republicans blame Democrats.
"I have never seen the country so polarized," Nelson said. "It's way too partisan. It's way too ideologically divided. You know, in order to get our government to function, you have to respect the other fellas point of view and be willing to work out your differences."
He and Senator Clair McCaskill (D-Mo.) hope to send a message by showing members of Congress what it's like to be furloughed themselves, with a new bill.
"If you're going to dock federal employees pay - then the members of congress pay ought to be docked as well."
But Nelson says there is light at the ends of the tunnel.
"If the House will agree to negotiate with the Senate, we can avert a number of these cuts. There still will be cuts but they won't be punitive. I think we might get a deal done and we really need to do it in the next two weeks and I believe it's in the offing. I'm very optimistic."
First Coast News