WASHINGTON,D.C. (WUSA) -- "We've delayed a few things but we haven't avoided much," said Greater Washington Board of Trade President and CEO Jim Dinegar, talking to 9News about that last-minute congressional effort to avoid the Fiscal Cliff.
Congress delayed for two months the across-the-board eight percent spending cuts in federal programs ( known as sequestration), substituting considerably smaller cuts to pay for that delay, without resolving the greater issue.
"I think we're going to see in the next couple of weeks some of those furloughs go into place. It will be a little bit of a toe in the water as it relates to sequestration. Some cuts are going to happen right away. The bigger cuts, the bigger sequestration cut implications will take March First," said Dinegar, who is disappointed in the congressional solution.
"You know, a lot of people were hoping for certainty after the elections. That didn't happen. Then, they were hoping for certainty after the fiscal cliff, and that didn't happen. And, I'm not sure there is a higher degree of certainty so we're still going to have a hold on hiring. We're still going to have a hold on new investments. Everybody is waiting.
"On top of that, I'm afraid we're going to see some severe cuts in this area, primarily because of the cuts in defense. We're a big defense area, and the federal government. We're a big federal government area, as well. It's going to hurt here, certainly, more than other areas around the country," he said
Look for a trifecta of congressional tribulation in the three months ahead. Sequestration joins hitting the debt limit, and the expiration, in March, of appropriations for federal agencies as the three guaranteed fights ahead.
"We face three more fiscal cliffs where the only questions asked will be what programs do we cut and how deep do we cut them," said Eight District Virginia Congressman James Moran, a Democrat.
Moran represents the 65 thousand federal employees who live in his district.
"We will get hit the hardest of any congressional district in the country because of the presence of the federal government and all of the federal agencies and all of the federal contractors, so this will be devastating," he told 9News Now.
Local governments are on hold as they try to prepare budgets for the year ahead, not knowing if those sequestration cuts will actually go into effect, even as they plan for the eventuality that the sequestration cuts will happen.
"Programs from Head Start in the school system to emergency preparedness, are going to be cut eight percent, so it's the local governments that are going to have to deal with either replacing that eight percent cut or terminating the programs that funding supports," said Prince William County Supervisor Frank Principi, who also serves as Chairman of the board of Directors at Washington's Council of Governments.
"For the local governments here in Northern Virginia, we don't have to pass our budgets until April and our fiscal year starts July One, so we still have some time to decide whether or not we're going to cut our budget or we're going to replace the funds that might get cut in sequestration," he said.
The Council of Governments is preparing for what Principi calls a new economic reality in the Capital Region.
"We need to do things proactively and strategically to be able to deal with what we think are going to be long-term budget deficit and entitlement reform types sorts of issues," Principi told 9News Now.
"We think that we're going to need to re-brand this region. It's not just a government town, as it's been for many, many decades, insulated, if you will, from the economy because of federal spending.
"We're going to have to re-make ourselves as a manufacturing, as an entrepreneurial region in this country to remain competitive," he said.