Congress Plays the Blame Game over Sequestration, Feds Left in State of Uncertainty


Attention federal employees: if you are looking for an uplifting story to buoy your spirits this weekend, shut down your computer immediately.

To date there have been a long list of studies published on the potential fallout from $109 billion in mandatory sequestration cuts scheduled to hit the government on January 2, 2013. As NFFE reported last week, estimates predict that hundreds of thousands of federal jobs would be lost. This week, President Obama’s budget office affirmed these fears, and urged that Congress make every effort to stop the devastating cuts.

At a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the panel the cuts would “at least” result in unpaid furloughs, hiring freezes, and layoffs. According to the Federal Times, both men reiterated that the cuts must be stopped, or risk serious consequences for our national defense and other critical public services.

As the clock ticks closer to January 2nd, both Republicans and Democrats have chosen to play the blame game rather than come to a bipartisan solution to replace the mandated cuts. With Congress’s August recess approaching, the odds of that happening grow even smaller. With such a short window of opportunity to create a solution, it is unlikely the House and Senate will come to agreement on anything regarding the sequestration cuts.

As they debate any potential solution, however, it is important that federal employees be involved in the process. Yes, it is crucial to stop the massive cuts to federal agency budgets, but not at the expense of your pensions, pay checks, or jobs, as some have proposed.

“Federal employees are in a tough spot right now,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “Sequestration would be a disaster for federal employees and the agencies for which they work. However, a bad deal to end sequestration that guts federal pay and benefits is unacceptable as well. We need to keep reminding members of Congress that it was not the federal workforce that got us into the fiscal crisis we are stuck in, and federal workers can’t be expected to shoulder the bulk of the burden in getting our country out of it. Federal employees have already accepted $75 billion in cuts to their pay and benefits. Congress needs to get serious about a balanced approach to getting our fiscal house in order.”

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