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Mayor Heads To D.C. To Speak Against Potential Defense Cuts

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders headed to Washington, D.C., today to speak out against possible automatic cuts in defense spending next year.

Sanders will be joined at a Tuesday morning news conference by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., at an event sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association.

At issue is $1.2 trillion in automatic spending reductions that will go into effect Jan. 3 if the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction fails to lower the deficit by $1.5 trillion -- either through lower expenditures or higher revenues. The Pentagon's share of the cuts if committee members can't reach an agreement is $492 billion, through 2021.

The trigger was the result of intense negotiations between both political parties and President Barack Obama. Between the cuts to defense and social programs, the idea was to give both Republicans and Democrats incentive to find ways to reign in annual deficits.

Organizers of the news conference will also release a report detailing what they call "staggering'' job losses in the U.S. if the cuts go through.

"This report shows that sequestration is not just a defense problem, it's an American problem,'' said AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey. "Unless our leaders in Washington take action, massive cuts have the potential to impact everyone from the defense worker to teachers, healthcare professionals, government employees and beyond.''

The San Diego Military Advisory Council estimated last month that about one-quarter of the jobs in the region rely in some way on defense spending. San Diego is raking in about $20 million in Pentagon cash this fiscal year, according to a council report. About $8 billion is spent on salaries for 140,000 military and civilian Defense Department employees.

San Diego officials have been wary about the looming defense cuts and are also concerned that there could be another round of base closures in the near future.

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