This February 1, 2010 file photo shows the Capitol Dome silhouetted against the rising sun in Washington, DC. The question facing Americans is no longer when or whether the budget axe will fall, but how hard. And in the US capital region, the impact of looming spending cuts will be deepest of all. Warnings were mounting over the impact of the $85 billion automatic "sequester" spending reductions mandated to start March 1, 2013 if warring politicians don't strike a more modest deficit reduction deal before then. AFP PHOTO / Files / Jewel Samad /Getty Images