Local lawmakers react to Obama's speech

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAVY) — President Obama made sure to address sequestration, a hot-button topic not only in the military community of Hampton Roads but nationwide, during Tuesday's State of the Union address.

"As long as I'm Commander in Chief, we will do whatever we must to protect those who serve their country abroad, and we will maintain the best military in the world," Obama said.

He said he wants to not cut the military, but make it stronger.

Sequestration cuts are set to kick in March 1. Obama said he wants to avoid serious cuts to the military.

"These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness," Obama said. "They'd devastate priorities like education, energy and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That's why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as 'the sequester,' are a really bad idea."

Last week, the Navy made two major announcements fearing budget cuts. 

The scheduled deployment of the USS Truman was delayed and so was a scheduled overhaul of the USS Lincoln. 

Virginia lawmakers hope they can work with their colleagues and the president to avoid military cuts they say could devastate Hampton Roads.

"Well, I was looking for a specific plan that could avert sequestration and though the president touched on that, nothing definitive was forthcoming," Congressman Scott Rigell (R-VA) said.

The president only mentioned the word "sequester" once in his speech.

"This is disappointing to me," Rigell said. "I hope that he will provide more leadership on this in the days and the weeks ahead."

"The big issue for Virginia is how we mitigate these cuts so they don't cost us thousands of jobs," Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) said.  "They impact our national defense. That's what we are going to be working on, hopefully we will do that in a bipartisan basis."

"There's a March 1 sequester," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said. "What's magic about March 1?  It's not like the world's gotten safer suddenly or the economy is so much better.  This is a self-inflicted wound that we don't have to do."

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