By: Steve Tetreault

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Executives from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce make their annual trip to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with Nevada lawmakers and federal officials.

Their message: Do whatever it takes to avoid sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts that would take effect early next year if Congress fails to strike a deal on the federal debt.

The chamber does not have an official position on whose taxes should be cut, whose taxes should be raised, or other revenue and spending matters involved in the negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” at year’s end, said Cara Roberts, senior director of marketing and communications.

But the chamber does know that automatic spending cuts that would take place if Congress falls short could have a deep impact on Nevada, she said.

For instance, more than 500 companies in the state did $1.33 billion in business with the Department of Defense in 2011, according to a study by the Center for Security Policy that was publicized over the summer.

“Our numbers are showing that under sequestration those dollars could be reduced by $239 million in 2013, and that could very easily result in job loss of both civilian and Department of Defense jobs,” Roberts said.

The resulting revenue loss to Clark County could be as much as $28.5 million, she said. Statewide, 6,000 jobs could be lost.

“It’s going to be something we bring up,” Roberts said. “Across-the-board cuts are going to cut programs that are going to hurt our state.”

Chamber President Kristin McMillan and Government Affairs Chairman Hugh Anderson will head the 10-person delegation that will conduct meetings Wednesday through Friday.

Also on the agenda: To discover what money might become available to advance the proposed Interstate 11 between Las Vegas and Phoenix. Congress over the summer made the project eligible for federal aid.

Business leaders also will be seeking clues to where the Department of Transportation stands as far as signing off on a $5.5 billion federal loan for XpressWest to build its planned high-speed rail between Las Vegas and Southern California.

“We want to get a sense of where that approval is and discuss the importance of investing in high-speed rail infrastructure,” Roberts said.

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