Sequester bad news for local economy

McAllen chamber of commerce director Nancy Millar

The Rio Grande Valley receives millions of dollars in federal money in education, research to security.

If congress fails to make a new budget deal before March 1 major cuts are headed our way.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection alone faces $754 million in cuts.

"It means they will release a number of border patrol agents, wait times will increase at the bridges, and less border patrol could affect the national security, U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar (D) said.

Vice president of business development for the McAllen chamber of commerce, Eduardo Millet says longer bridge wait times can have a huge negative impact on the local economy.

"It has an impact on hotels, restaurants, and when they have to make a decision do I have to wait three hour, maybe I should fly somewhere else, they might make the other decisions," Millet said.

About 2.3 million tourists visit the valley for its wildlife but national wildlife refuges now face 20 percent cuts in their budgets.

"It may mean cutting programs, cutting hours of the refugees and other amenities people use while they are wildlife watching, McAllen chamber of commerce director Nancy Millar said.

Millar says the cuts will be felt by both visitors and those outside the tourism industry.

"Tourism is very important to our economy, Millar said. Just in McAllen, if we didn't have tourism money coming in, every household would pay$ 900 a year more in taxes in order to benefit from the city services that the tax money the visitors bring in provides, so it does impact everybody."

To avoid the cuts Cuellar says the nations' leaders simply need to start talking.

"I was talking to some members saying 'hey, what do we do? TM And even some of the Republican folks are saying, ~hey, it's crazy that we are not sitting down and working something out. TM And I agree. People need to sit in one room, close the door and don't walk out until we get an agreement done, that's what we ought to do, Cuellar said.