Sen. Ben Cardin joined local business leaders and elected officials Friday in Howard County for an informal town hall meeting to discuss the impact of sequestration and federal budget battles on the county's business community.

"It is affecting our small business community," Cardin said. "There's no question about it."


Cardin joined Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, County Council members Calvin Ball and Mary Kay Sigaty and more than 25 county business leaders at Howard Community College's Ecker Business Training Center for the hour-long town hall.

Sequestration is a set of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that began to take effect March 1, when Congress failed to reach an agreement.

Unless Congress acts, sequestration requires $42.7 billion in cuts to defense programs and another $42.7 billion in cuts to non-defense programs over the next year.

Cardin said that at least 70 senators would like to put an end to sequestration and restore predictability for business leaders.

But he does not have "a lot of confidence" in the House of Representatives to put an end to sequestration.

"The initiation will have to come from either the White House or the Senate," he said.

Cardin said the state has estimated that it will lose 13,000 jobs because of sequestration.

"It's affecting Maryland more than most states," he said.

Ulman said what frustrates him is not that the budget is being cut, which he said needs to happen, but how it is being done with across-the-board cuts.

"It doesn't allow intelligent decisions to be made," he said.

The U.S. Department of Defense has estimated that sequestration could result in procurement budgets of more than $49 billion over 10 years. It is estimated that such cuts could lead to a loss of more than 282,400 jobs nationwide among suppliers and vendors who depend on defense contractors.