There may be no better place in the Delaware Valley to view the effects of the sequester than from Independence Mall.

Sandwiched between federal office buildings and the centerpiece of 50-some acres of National Historic Park, it's the perfect vantage point to watch the sun set on Congress' opportunity to avert an indiscriminate, across-the-board slashing of federal spending.

If Congress doesn't reach a more carefully crafted budget deal, the cuts go into effect Friday.

Government agencies are at work on contingency plans. Among them is the National Parks Service, which a spokeswoman said could close eight of the 16 historical buildings that it operates within Philadelphia's city limits.

"Those would be the buildings like New Hall Military Museum, the Todd House, the Bishop White House," said Jane Cowley of the National Parks Service. "But we're also looking at eliminating our extended summer hours for Independence Hall and Liberty Bell center."

Right across a busy street from the Liberty Bell, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia will be spared cuts because it does not rely on congressional appropriations. However, the Department of Labor, which shares the building, will have to cut training programs. It will reduce workplace inspections and investigations.

The FBI has its offices in the federal office building at the Arch Street corner. The agency officials have told Congress the agency will have to furlough every officer for a total of two weeks.  That would also happen to tens of thousands of civilian military personnel, including 26,000 in Pennsylvania.

A U.S. Treasury representative couldn't be reached about what's going on at the U.S. Mint. The Philadelphia branch rises above the east side of the Mall, but then again, they print their own cash.

More money that flows from the federal government through local governments also will disappear, affecting everything from Head Start to vaccination programs.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania made the argument last week that managers should be able to find savings in their agencies.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan of Delaware County said, "It is [Rep. Meehan's] hope that we avoid the sequester's arbitrary cuts. We need to address our spending problem but the sequester’s across-the-board cuts are not an ideal way to do it."

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, have urged lawmakers in Washington to come together on a deal.

 

Impact of March 1st Cuts on Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security this year:

Pennsylvania New Jersey Delaware
Teachers and Schools:

 

Reductions in funding for primary
and secondary education
$26.4 million $11.7 million $1.4 million
Reduction in funding for education for Children with Disabilities $21.4 million $17 million $1.8 million
Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water:      
Lost funds for environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, and prevent pollution frompesticides and hazardous waste. $5,705,000 $4,891,000 $1.1 million
Lost grants for fish and wildlife protection $1,448,000 $472,000 $359,000
Military Readiness:      
Reduction in pay for Department of Defence employees (furloughs) $150.1 million $75 million $7.6 million
Army base operations funding cuts $7 million $52 million $0.6 million
Air Force operations funding cuts n/a $7 million $1 million
Law Enforcement and Public Safety:      
Lost Justice Assistance Grant Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution $509,000 $336,000 $83,000
Job Search Assistance:      
Lost funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement $866,000 n/a $86,000
Children's Vaccines:      
Reduced funding for vaccinations such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B $361,000 $268,000 $26,000
Public Health:      
Lost funds for responding to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and
biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events
$1,213,000 $840,000 $86,000
Lost grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse $2,930,000 $2,330,000 $330,000
Lost funds for HIV testing $639,000 $752,000 $70,000
STOP Violence Against Women Program:      
Lost funds to provide services to victims of domestic violence $271,000 $187,000 $19,000
Nutrition Assistance for Seniors:      
Lost funds to provide meals for seniors $849,000 $488,000 $201,000
Data provided by the White House

Video by Charlie Kaier