Sequester Furloughs Begin for Government Agencies
(WASHINGTON) — Parts of the federal government are finally showing the effects of the furloughs prescribed by sequestration — one month and four days after the law went into effect.
The Northern Division of Maryland’s Federal Public Defender’s office was closed all day today, with only one assistant federal public defender on hand. Upon calling the office, a message attributed the closure to “furloughs,” which Katherine Newberger, the one lawyer on duty, confirmed were because of sequestration.
At the Department of Labor, where most furloughs don’t go into effect until April 15, 150 employees waived that delay and have already begun taking their unpaid time off, as well.
Several government agencies made doomsday predictions ahead of the onset of sequestration. They warned the budget cuts would lead to furloughs that would cripple the offices they rely on to maintain order and safety in America.
But most agencies have yet to actually implement those furloughs.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Management and Budget and the Federal Aviation Administration have sent out notices to a combined 64,480 employees, but furloughs don’t start at those agencies until April 21.
The FAA, which announced Friday it will keep open for another couple months towers that it planned to close because of sequester cuts, has laid off some temporary employees and reduced contract funding. That could mean layoffs for contractor employees, according to spokeswoman Laura Brown.
The Department of Defense delayed the start of furloughs for civilian employees until mid-to-late June and cut the number of furlough days from 22 to 14.
This week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection also announced it would not be furloughing some workers who had been slated to take furloughs.
So will we see lines stretching down the street, and offices shuttering their doors or surviving with skeleton crews, once furloughs do kick in?
The EPA only has one day planned where most of the staff will be taking a mandatory day off with no pay — that is May 24, the Friday before the Memorial Day holiday.
None of the cuts are set in stone. Congress has already demonstrated how it can cure a sequester symptom, like a lack of meat and poultry inspectors, by voting to give agencies more money.
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