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Federal Employees Protest Budget Cuts On Independence Mall

By Robin Culverwell, Jenn Bernstein

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — About 150 federal employees gathered in the shadow of the Liberty Bell and the Federal Building at lunchtime on Wednesday to protest the across the board federal government cuts known as sequestration.

The protest was one of about 100 planned across the country to bring focus to how federal budget cuts are affecting federal workers.

“This is disgusting,” says Lynn Cox, with the Office of Public Housing. “I have been through a lot of administrations and this is the worst I’ve seen as far as congress in this country.”

American Federation of Government Employees Local 2032 President James Flynn said it’s tough to swallow, since he and his wife are about to have their second child.

“We’re having a boy! I’m excited, I’m really excited, but we face the prospect now of seven days without pay prior to the end of the year. That’s an enormous impact on us,” said Flynn.

The sequester will mean workers face reduced hours, meaning smaller paychecks and that in turn means less disposable income.

The National Park Service’s Jane Cowley says Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center will also be impacted.

“Later in the spring and the summer, we’ll see a really big impact,” she says, “when we are not able to offer evening hours at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center.”

Those cuts mean an estimated 100,000 or more visitors won’t get in to Independence Hall and to see the Liberty Bell.

Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation’s CEO and President, Meryl Levitz, is worried about the trickle down effect on visitors.

“The fewer things there are to do, the less time they spend, we want them to stay overnight, the Park is certainly a two day experience,” said Levitz.

For visitors:

– Independence Hall and will be closed to visitors after 5pm, eliminating evening hours previously offered during the summer months. This reduction of hours will affect 43,600 visitors who will not get to see the interior of Independence Hall.

– The Liberty Bell Center will be closed to visitors after 5pm, eliminating evening hours previously offered during the summer months. This reduction of hours will affect 112,000 visitors.

– The following five buildings will be closed to visitors in May 2013 and will remain closed: the Bishop White House, Todd House, New Hall Military Museum, Declaration House, Fragments of Franklin Court (318 Market Street). This will affect over 63,000 visitors.

– The Germantown White House (including the Deshler Morris House and the Bringhurst House) has not opened as planned in March 2013 and will remain closed to visitors. This will affect over 1300 visitors.

– The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site will be open 3 days per week instead of 5. This will affect 3400 visitors.

– The Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial will be open 2 days per week instead of 5.

– All National Park Ranger-led walking tours and programs will be cancelled. This will affect 2200 visitors.

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