(Update 1:10 p.m.) President visits Newport News Shipyard

For those interested in watching the president’s speech approx 1:15 p.m….


UPDATE: Congressman Rigell will be with the president as they travel to Newport News prior to the president’s speech –

Congressman Scott Rigell will be meeting with President Obama today to discuss the impacts of sequestration on our national security and on the Hampton Roads region. Rigell has consistently advocated for a reasonable, defined alternative to the sequester and will call on the President, as Commander in Chief, to lead in this effort.

Congressman Forbes and Wittman will be in DC and will offer their perspective on the impact of the sequester at 12:30 p.m.

Majority Leader Cantor just delivered these remarks:

“Good morning. As the Speaker said, the President’s going to be in Newport News, Virginia today talking to families in the Commonwealth. I can tell you, I’m concerned about families in the Commonwealth. I’m concerned about their future and the uncertainty which looms because of the sequester.

“Now, the President has said he wants to compromise. But if you take a look at what’s going on, there have been four years of spending increases and now the President says we can’t have any progress on the sequester unless he gets a second tax hike in eight weeks. That’s not compromise. Then he says the choice is letting criminals out of jails and onto the streets or give him a tax increase. That’s not a compromise, that’s a false choice.

“We have tried in the House to bring forward measures that actually accomplish reform and cut spending. We’ve even taken things that the President had in his very own budget to say, please join us, and he won’t accept those proposals unless we raise taxes. Now it’s time for the Senate to come together with us, sit down with the President and let’s get this resolved for the American people.”

UPDATE 2 From the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing:

THE HOUSE: Convened at 10 and this afternoon will underscore the GOP leadership’s commitment to doing nothing this week that might stop the sequester — by considering just one totally unrelated measure; it would create high school STEM competitions (kind of like the House visual arts contest) in each congressional district.

THE PRESIDENT: Obama is upping the ante in the sequester blame game by focusing his annoyance with the GOP in an area of the party’s traditional political strength – national security. In a speech at 1 at Newport News Shipbuilding, which makes submarines and aircraft carriers and is Virginia’s largest industrial employer (21,000 jobs), he’ll argue that Republican insistence on protecting “wasteful tax loopholes that benefit the well-off and the well-connected” is all that’s responsible for the slowdown at the shipyard that’s already started in anticipation of the across-the-board defense cuts ($43 billion, or 8 percent, if the sequester lasts until September).

GOP leaders see it differently, of course, and also have concluded their base is more interested in fiscal restraint at the moment than in sustaining the military-industrial complex. So, rather than responding on policy, McConnell and Boehner chided Obama for spending the day “campaigning” when he could be trying to cut a deal — even though there’s been no contact between the principals since last week. (One member of the GOP rank-and-file distancing himself from the leadership’s messaging is Norfolk’s congressman, Scott Rigell, who’s with Obama on Air Force One and says he’s open to closing some loopholes if that means keeping his constituents employed.)

WJLA-7 in DC does a great job breaking it down:

MAKING HIS POTUS PITCH: This time at Newport News Shipbuilding, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “As President Barack Obama heads to Newport News today to highlight the impact that steep federal spending cuts will have if not averted, Virginia schools, military installations, local governments are beginning to prepare. Obama will appear at Newport News Shipbuilding, in a defense-heavy state that could be particularly hard hit if Congress does not find a way to avoid the cuts slated to take effect March 1.” http://bit.ly/13MYlNb

MEANWHILE: Hits already are coming, per the Daily Press, “Obama is scheduled to speak at the shipyard about across-the-board cuts to defense and non-defense programs — referred to as a sequester in budget parlance. But some cuts have already been imposed by the Pentagon. On Feb. 8, the Navy delayed the refueling and complex overhaul of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, a four-year, multi-billion shipyard project that typically employs thousands of workers.” http://bit.ly/XXxiLP

AND THIS: He may not have a receptive audience, per the Washington Post, “Obama is not seen in Newport News as any sort of savior but rather as the leader of a dysfunctional government that is playing havoc with people’s lives. Residents are bitter and resentful. It’s difficult to have a conversation without getting an earful of expletives. And there is little patience here for serving as political props in Washington’s latest budget drama.” http://wapo.st/13jynFh

AND MORE: Virginia’s GOP congressional delegation weighs in, per the Virginian-Pilot, “The three Republican congressmen who represent Hampton Roads said Monday they doubt that Congress will act before Friday’s deadline for the start of $85 billion in automatic budget cuts. During a 90-minute Navy League of Hampton Roads forum at the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center, U.S. Reps. Scott Rigell, Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman said they would push for legislation to exempt the military from the reductions, which must be made over the next seven months.” http://bit.ly/YSzoOX

MEANWHILE: A GOP plan – of sorts, per the New York Times, “Congressional Republicans are preparing to counter increasingly dire warnings from President Obama about the impact of automatic budget cuts with a plan to give the administration more flexibility in instituting $85 billion in cuts, a proposal they say could protect the most vital programs while shifting more of the political fallout to the White House. The plan is vigorously opposed by the administration, which said Monday that it would do little to soften the blow to military and domestic programs.” http://nyti.ms/XCGDcs

POLITICO PLAY: “Read President Barack Obama’s state-by-state breakdown of the sequester and you get a dire message: The sky is going to fall on March 1. But a closer read of the detailed reports shows that some of the scariest stuff is going to happen in slow motion — if it happens at all.” http://politi.co/WnBi8H

As referenced above, the president might not find a completely receptive audience. The group “Bankrupting America” visited a local market in Newport News and asked residents if they thought the president and congress should be able to find 3-cents on the dollar (the amount of the sequester) in spending cuts to avert the automatic sequester this Friday: