March 1, sequestration day, is here. Congress and the Administration were unable to come to an agreement on ways to avoid the draconian, across-the-board spending cuts before the self-imposed deadline.
While not all agencies have made public their plans for addressing sequestration, including the potential furloughing of employees, below is a summary of information available to FEDagent at the time of publication. If you have any information we’ve missed, please email us and we will update this story next week!
Federal Courts: 20,000 employees of federal courts could be furloughed for 16 days, and some may face layoffs.
Homeland Security Department: Law enforcement personnel could face up to 14 furlough days, according to a February 13 letter from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Staffing reductions would be felt by frontline employees at Customs and Border Patrol and the Transportation Security Administration. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated that it would not be able to sustain current detention and removal operations of illegal immigrants, or maintain the 34,000 detention beds mandated by Congress.
Justice Department: The Justice Department is facing a $1.6 billion cut, according to a letter from the Attorney General’s office. DoJ employees face one furlough day per pay period. The department may furlough hundreds of federal prosecutors, resulting in the prosecution of approximately 1,000 fewer criminal cases nationwide, and some civil litigation defending the financial interests of the United States would not be pursued.FBI Director Robert Mueller has said $550 million in cuts to the bureau “would have the net effect of cutting 2,285 employees -- including 775 agents -- through furloughs and a hiring freeze,” according to the FBI Agents Association. FBI personnel could face 14 furlough days. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) would lose $60 million of its budget. The Federal Bureau of Prisons faces a $338 million cut and employees could be furloughed up to 12 days. The U.S. Marshals Service faces a cut of $60 million and the need to furlough its 5,100 employees for up to 13 days.
In a Huffington Post interview, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) president Jon Adler offered his assessment. Adler said Congress was essentially willing to endanger Americans through political games, given that federal law enforcement officers could be furloughed if the sequester kicks in.
"The road to a lawless society is currently being paved by the congressional sequester," Adler declared, claiming that budget cuts would make it more difficult for the feds to capture terrorists and child molesters. "What they're going to do is amputate the long arm of the law. We're not going to sit back and go gentle into the sequester. The consequences are dire. It's unfortunate we have to reach this point."