NTEU National President Colleen Kelley sent a letter this week to members of the Senate urging them to avoid sequestration cuts which are potentially looming in the coming months.
Kelley noted that since no alternative has been reached, federal employees could ultimately suffer.
The full text of Kelley’s letter is listed below.
January 30, 2013
As you know, the Budget Control Act of 2011 included a provision known as a sequester that will enforce automatic, across the board spending cuts. Originally scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013, the sequester is now scheduled to begin on March 1, 2013 and with few exceptions, will require cuts of the same percentage in every project, program and activity of federal agency budgets. This meat ax approach was never expected to be implemented, but rather to serve as an incentive to find sensible alternatives to sequestration. Since no alternative was reached, the federal workforce and the public it serves, could soon be facing unpaid furloughs and the loss of critical services.
Some agencies have announced that if the sequester is implemented, employees will face one unpaid furlough day a week from March through the end of September. That would amount to a huge loss of wages for employees and a huge loss of services for taxpayers.
In addition to the size of the cuts – as much as 8 to 10 percent – the requirement that each project, program and activity must be cut by the same amount will prevent agencies from exercising discretion to ensure that the highest priority programs take the least amount of cuts.
Many agencies are already operating under severe funding reductions and sequestration will wreak havoc on their missions. The IRS, for example, is operating with 5,000 fewer employees than just two years ago. The Service’s ability to provide information, answer questions and deliver refunds will be seriously impaired should further cuts be required by sequestration. Similarly, Customs and Border Protection is seriously understaffed with wait times at border crossings already maddeningly long. The lines and the negative economic impact they produce will be exacerbated if sequestration goes into effect.
In addition to the impact on employees and services, sequestration will have a severely detrimental impact on our fragile economic recovery and could turn the country back toward recession.
I urge you to prevent these harmful and arbitrary cuts by delaying or cancelling the sequester set to begin on March 1.
Colleen M. Kelley National President