Sequestration Effects on FDA Worry Local Businesses
The threat of widespread cuts at Silver Spring’s Food and Drug Administration is worrisome to local business owners.
Jewel of India, a hidden gem of a buffet in the Silver Spring neighborhood of Hillandale, stays busy during the week, thanks, in part, to the presence of thousands of federal workers at nearby Food and Drug Administration.
The thought of furloughs for some government workers if a deal to prevent the so-called sequestration isn’t reached isn’t a happy one for the dozens of small businesses that populate Hillandale and White Oak, the neighborhoods surrounding the federal agency’s consolidated headquarters.
Augustine Gomes, the restaurant’s manager, said 40 percent of his business on any given weekday comes from people working at FDA’s research center near the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Columbia Pike. There’s a big group of up to 20 who make reservations on Thursdays and Fridays, he said, and then there are smaller groups who eat at the buffet during the week.
“Of course we will lose some business [if the sequestration isn’t prevented],” he told Patch. “Not because of FDA only, but because all of the federal government," Gomes said.
Further north, at the White Oak Shopping Center, there are daily shuttles that bring FDA employees to enjoy the small, ethnic restaurants in the area. The manager of a Mexican restaurant said less money for FDA workers would affect all of the area businesses.
“In the big picture, a lot of people are going to be affected,” said Jose A. Ayala, manager of Pansa Llena. “A lot of businesses, not only restaurants, I would say the whole shopping center.”
Without action from Congress, the sequester would go into effect automatically on March 1, reducing spending in a number of areas, including education, the environment, health, military and law enforcement, the White House said.
Automatic cuts would mean the FDA conducts 2,100 fewer inspections and that the agency would be slower in making new policies based on recent technology and research, according to a memo from the White House.
In Maryland, the White House said if sequestration were to take effect, it would include funding cuts to teachers and schools, work-study jobs on college campuses, Head Start programs and environmental funding.
A White House report also said sequestration in Maryland could mean furloughs for 46,000 civilian Department of Defense employees, reducing gross pay by around $353.7 million.