Tax deal delays Pentagon notification of possible furloughs
January 2nd, 2013
12:31 PM ET

Tax deal delays Pentagon notification of possible furloughs

By Chris Lawrence

The Pentagon has delayed plans to notify up to 800,000 civilian workers about possible furloughs now that any big spending cuts under the fiscal cliff have been averted.

The tax deal negotiated by the Senate and the White House and approved by Congress on Tuesday would defer substantial cuts in domestic spending, or sequester, for two months.

The Pentagon faced up to $500 billion in spending reductions under congressional plans for the automatic spending cuts.

In a prepared statement, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the deal buys time for lawmakers to come up with a deficit reduction plan that prevents devastating and arbitrary cuts. "Had Congress not acted, the Department of Defense - along with other federal agencies –would have been forced to begin taking dramatic steps that would have severely impacted our civilian personnel and disrupted our mission," Panetta said Wednesday.

While they caught a break this time, defense officials say compressing the timetable could present another challenge if those cuts eventually become law.

“We would face even greater difficulty if sequester takes effect two months from now,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

The Pentagon operates on the fiscal year calendar, October through September. So it would have even less time and less flexibility to implement mandatory budget cuts for this fiscal year. It’s the difference between nine months and seven months.

The Pentagon could still alert its civilian workforce that it may be forced to take unpaid leave, if the mandatory cuts take effect in 60 days.

“Our civilian workforce costs tens of billions of dollars. We would have to tap into it. We were prepared to do the prudent thing and notify them,” Little said.

Although all civilian workers would likely receive notice, only a certain number would be forced to stay home.

“We don’t know if it’s 100,000 or 200,000. But the maximum time a worker can be furloughed is 22 days. So you do the math. We would have to spread the furloughs across a wide spectrum to get the savings required,” Little said.

Sequester only dictates across-the-board budget cuts. It does not specify how the Defense Department would reduce spending.

Panetta said the time to act and prevent the cuts is now. "Congress cannot continue to just kick the can down the road," he said.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Justin

    @ Carlson
    I know its most likely pointless to try to debate with smaller minded individuals but I will make an attempt. I do not mean this as in insult.

    Do you have any idea how how of our economey is based off defense spending, and how many jobs it provides. Between active duty and reservers over 3 million people are imployed. That doesn't even account for civilians employed in support roles, and local and non local businesses that thrive off military. Reducing the budget would mean these people lose their jobs? If these people lose their defense jobs they will flood unemployment and the workforce.

    Defense spending is one of the most effective ways to return tax dollars to the american people. Most of which earn between 23,000 and 200,000 a year so they are the lower and middle class. You should actually be supporting defense spending come to think of it...

    January 3, 2013 at 2:21 am | Reply
    • NNN

      "Defense spending is one of the most effective ways to return tax dollars to the american people"- really? How about we just not take those tax dollars to begin with? That sounds way more effective.

      January 3, 2013 at 6:28 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Much more effective would be rebuilding our own infructure here at home! Military spending employs many Americans, but the true result of this spending does nothing for us here at home!
      Better to rebuild America first! Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and others only drain our resources! They have NOTHING to benefit the American people! Romney's 47% would live much better if we stop supporting "allies" don't support us!

      January 4, 2013 at 8:38 am | Reply
  2. Hide Behind

    CIA, FBI, DEA, BATF, and even your local cop squad are all connected to military training and spending in many ways but none of them are financed under military budgeting.
    Almost all the high players in Contract Security and overseas training of other military are ex military. With close ties to active military programs in those countrysand are paid out by State Dept funs and "international aid funds" that come through the state Dept budgets.
    Our yearly cost of retired. Disabled and theor dependents cost is yearly in the 200 billion dollar range,and we continue to double dip military retirees with federal or even postal job preferences and now pay civilians to hire them under a different program.
    Militarys new building contracts as they try to further limit military civilian contact and close bases to public entry and even internet entry while paying for spousal employment in civilian jobs as well.
    FOUR branches just received over 350 million as each funds own studies on use of new psycotropic drug programs.
    Hollywood budget from military over 100 million a year and includes actualcash along with military equipment and "realism advisors" such as those used to make latest movie on bin lafin assassination.
    MILITARY HAS NO BUDGET!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  3. Carlson

    These right-wingers in Washington will stop at nothing to keep this stupid military spending at it's present level, if not to further increase it! As always, it will be the poor, the elderly and the children who'll suffer the most from the budget ax, further proving just how much of a stranglehold the M.I.C. has on this government! We need to vote these right-wing fanatics out of office and how!

    January 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Reply
    • NNN

      Yes, and it is particularly disgusting because most of the Defense workforce is grossly overpaid and does very little work. That the needy in America should be forced to suffer deprivation of essentials to support that bunch is beyond evil.

      January 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  4. jhvbmjhtjmh

    (...)WHY WAS FBI TOLD TO LABLE OCCUPY WALL STREET AS A TERRORIST THREAT ANSWER: ITS ALL BS ALL OF IT IS MILITARY AND THE MILITARY RUNS THE US FOR ISRAEL OR WALL STREET WHO ALL GAVE THEMSELFS GIANT BONUSES AND RAISES THIS YEAR ALL WALL STREET LEADERDHIP IS ISRAELIE(...)

    January 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  5. jhvbmjhtjmh

    (...)YOU SAID DOMESTIC THAT IS A JOKE. NOTHING WAS GOING TO HAPPEN & NOTHING GOOD DID HAPPEN. I BET THE "MILITARY" BUDGET GOES UP TO 85 % OF GDP FASTER THAN ANYTHING MEANINGFUL WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED.(...)

    January 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Reply

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