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Rep. Lowey Warns Of Loss Of Jobs, Medical Research Due To Sequester

Rep. Nita Lowey (file/credit: lowey.house.gov)

Rep. Nita Lowey (file/credit: lowey.house.gov)

CBS New York (con't)

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VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Cuts from the sequester may start to hit home.

The automatic spending cuts that took effect on March 1 when Congress failed to reach a budget deal could cost some researchers at New York Medical College their jobs.

Rep. Nita Lowey warned a 5 percent cut in funding for the National Institutes of Health could result in a loss of $1.5 million for flu vaccine, Lyme disease and other research efforts in Westchester and Rockland Counties alone.

“Never has investment at the National Institutes of Health been a partisan issue and that is what is so unfortunate today,” Rep. Lowey told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane. “To do away with the sequester would have to be some wise, new thinking on the part of the Republican leadership.”

Lowey said NIH grants to Westchester and Rockland total $96 million over three years.

New York Medical College President Alan Kadish said for the meantime, they’re shouldering the burden. But Kadish said such efforts may only buy these programs weeks or months.

“Once you close down research programs, it’s much more expensive and much more difficult to start them up again,” Kadish told Murnane.

Lowey noted that studies show that if the cuts hold, more than 70,000 New York State jobs are on the line.

Last month, Rep. Carolyn Maloney warned that the sequester could have a huge impact on medical research. She warned the automatic cuts could cost the state $170 million in federal research funding.

When the sequester took effect at the beginning of the month, it triggered automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion. If a deal is reached in Congress to enact spending cuts, the cuts from the sequester can be reversed.

The sequester was drafted by Congress last year as a series of cuts so painful that it would force them to come together on a deal. But Democrats and Republicans were unable to compromise on cost-saving measures before the self-imposed March 1 deadline.

The main sticking point was whether to raise taxes. Democrats had proposed increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while Republicans argued that no one should have to pay more taxes in the current economy.

When do you think Congress will act to end the sequester? Please offer your comments below…