(NBCNC) - President Obama urged Congress on Tuesday to take action to avoid massive budget cuts that could lead to furloughs and layoffs across the country.
The cuts will go into effect automatically next Friday unless a budget compromise can be reached.
Surrounded by first responders who could lose their jobs, President Obama called on Republicans to make a deal.
"Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education, health care, education and national security," he asked, "or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that only affect the wealthiest Americans?"
If no deal is reached $85-billion in automatic cuts known as the sequester go into effect March 1st.
Democrats want to close tax loopholes on the oil industry and raise taxes on millionaires, but Republicans want more deficit reduction.
"The president says it's going to be a balanced approached, but so far it's all been tax increases, so from the Republican point of view they want to see the spending cuts in terms of the other side of it," argues Republican strategist David Winston.
If there's no compromise everyone from FBI to border patrol agents could be furloughed or laid off.
A Wells Fargo study says federal and defense industry workers in Maryland, Virginia and DC will be hardest hit as the military faces massive cuts.
The sequester was originally set to go into effect January 1st, but was delayed as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations.