Obama Calls for Sequestration Delay as Federal Agencies Prepare for Mass Furloughs
President Obama held a press conference Tuesday urging Congress develop a measure to delay the more than $85 billion in automatic sequestration cuts, set to take effect March 1st. Though no specific proposal was offered, the President suggested a mix of minor revenue-raising tax reforms and spending cuts could buy time to develop a more comprehensive solution to the sequester.
Currently, agencies stand to lose anywhere from 5%-9% of their budgets across-the-board unless a deficit-reduction agreement is reached by the first of next month. Over ten years these cuts will be repeated annually, claiming more than a trillion dollars from federal accounts in total.
In preparation for the fast-approaching cuts, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo to agencies Monday instructing them to prepare for furloughs, among other options, to reduce budgets in line with the sequester. By law, the only way to disarm the automatic cuts is to develop spending cuts or revenue increases equivalent to the full $1 trillion price tag.
This has been the task before Congress for well over a year now – a task they have yet to seriously address. To date, more than 500 days have passed since the sequester was put in place. This has been a particularly vexing issue for federal employees, who throughout this time have lived in a constant state of uncertainty. With shifting deadlines, last-minute delays, and confusing alternatives emerging near-monthly, it is no wonder federal workers are at their wit’s end.
“Congress created Frankenstein and now they’re panicking that it is coming to life,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “They created this problem and it’s their job to fix it. Why should federal employees suffer because Congress cannot clean up its own mess?”
For more information on sequestration and the debt ceiling, have a look at our handy Federal Employees Guide to Sequestration and the Debt Ceiling.