Automatic spending cuts slated to take effect March 1 at 11:59 p.m.

Published On: Feb 28 2013 07:55:00 PM HST

Automatic federal spending cuts are expected to take effect shortly.

HONOLULU -

Hawaii Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa told KITV on Thursday that the House had already recessed that morning, there was nothing on the agenda the next day, and she said House members had no plans to reconvene until Monday.

"Unfortunately it does not look good," said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Lawmakers added worrisome words from Hawaii's congressional delegation on Thursday as they began preparing for damage control, while trying to soften the blow.

"It's going to be a while before we actually feel the impact of sequestration and there will be an impact," she said.

"It's like a mess that's leaking all over the place and the more it leaks the worse the mess becomes," said Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony, spokesperson for the Hawaii National Guard.

He said 1100 Hawaii National Guard soldiers, who work as federal technicians will be furloughed one day week, which would be equivalent to a 20% pay cut.

He said a couple hundred temporary technicians may be laid off all together, having a dangerous effect on their ability to respond to domestic disasters, he said.

"Let's say we get into summertime and there are a lot of brushfires and things. We may not be able to generate as many helicopters as we would," he said.

"We need to be prepared for a roll out of contingencies," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie who has already budgeted $25 million to counter the effects of sequestration on the islands.

But his budget director said the impact could be millions of dollars more, affecting not only the military, but everything from the Meals on Wheels program to infectious disease control.

"We're also going to see an impact on low-income housing, Section-8 vouchers, and on special education for federal funding," said Gabbard.

"The immediate question is not what will happen on Friday, because this will take some time to unfold, but whether or not there will be a complete shutdown of the government within a month," said Abercrombie.

If congress can't figure out how to extend funding by March 27th the government could shut down altogether.

Lt. Col. Anthony said that will have a huge impact on the military, drastically cut flight hours, and put disaster readiness in a stand-still.

Hanabusa plans to introduce a bill to transfer authority to the Defense Department, in the event a shutdown occurs.

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