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Automatic Spending Cuts Could Hurt Sandy Victims, 9/11 First Responders

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Automatic spending cuts are set to take effect in just four days, and lawmakers are warning that those reductions would slash aid to Hurricane Sandy victims and first responders who got sick from responding to the 9/11 attacks. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.

Police officers and firefighters who responded on 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy Victims who are trying to rebuild after last fall's devastating storm are just two groups that could see their lives made even more difficult by automatic spending cuts set to take effect on Friday.

"Some of the cruelest cuts of all are to our heroes, who answered the call of duty on 9/11 and are suffering the most," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said.

According to the White House, the cuts would also impact a slew of programs critical to people across the state.

There would be fewer Head Start slots, less funding to protect the environment and fewer vaccinated children.

"We're still coming out of a recession, trying to recover. The economy is in a very delicate state right now. It is not in a position to absorb $85 billion in cuts," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) said.

Those cuts would result in New York losing about $500 million in aid from the federal government.

But according to Federal Funds Information for States, a group that tracks federal spending, 82 percent of the federal funding that goes to states across the country wouldn't be touched since huge programs like Medicaid are exempt from the cuts.

No one thought the automatic spending cuts, roughly $1.2 trillion worth over 10 years, would actually happen.

They were initially proposed as a threat to get both Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on long-term deficit reduction. But when both sides failed to come to a deal at the end of 2011, the cuts became reality, and now they're about to kick in.

Republicans and Democrats remain divided over how, or whether, to stop them.

Democrats want to replace some of the cuts with tax increases on the wealthy, Republicans say revenue is out of the question.

"This debt problem and the president's addiction to spending is threatening their future," House Speaker John Boehner said.

With just a few days to go until the deadline, a deal looks unlikely.

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