Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter: Mass Furloughs Coming to DoD in April Without Sequestration Deal
At a press conference with reporters last week, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter painted a gloomy picture for the Department of Defense (DoD) should Congress fail to reach a deal to avoid sequestration by March 1st. According to Carter, hundreds of thousands of Defense workers would be furloughed if the more than $50 billion in cuts are implemented.
Though details are scant at the moment, Carter suggested the employees would be furlough one day per week for every week until the close of the fiscal year on September 30th. This means that affected employees would be required to stay home without pay for nearly 22 days this year. The move is expected to save roughly $5 billion dollars over the course of the fiscal year.
Carter and other Defense officials have been vocal critics of the more than $50 billion in cuts expected to hit DoD alone this year. The automatic cuts, set in motion by Congress when it failed to reach a deal to reduce the deficit in 2011, are poised to slash 9% of the department’s budget each year for the next decade.
That same week, Army Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Thomas Lamont issued a memo to employees announcing a civilian hiring freeze, layoffs for temporary employees, and layoffs for term employees at the expiration of their appointments. Making matters worse, the Navy came out with a memo less than a week later announcing 3,000 job cuts at several Naval shipyards across the country. This memo came on the heels of a January 14 memo announcing one-day per week furloughs for Navy civilians as well. All told, these job cuts will have a serious impact on America’s military capability.
“Rather than working together to find smart, strategic spending reductions, Congress set these irresponsible cuts in motion,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “If we let these cuts go into effect March 1st, we are willfully cutting off our nose to spite our face. These employees deserve a steady job to show up to in April. Congress needs to worry more about the livelihoods of these dedicated public servants than their own narrow political interests.”