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UPDATE: NTEU Chapter 67's Q&A about the Sequester and the Continuing Resolution

Some ways the Sequester is already effecting the public:

  • We have seen long wait times at airports and land border crossings—reaching as much as five hours.
  • Taxpayers have experienced difficulties in getting the help they need from the Internal Revenue Service to meet their obligations.

As days continue to pass by without some level of resolution in Congress, agency missions and the critical services they provide will continue to falter.

Below are some frequently asked questions about the sequester and the Continuing Resolution:


What impacts are our nation’s fiscal challenges having on federal employees?
Clearly, the impacts are serious. First, many federal agencies have faced static, or even declining budgets in recent years. That alone makes it very difficult for employees to deliver effectively and efficiently on their agency’s missions even without the impact of sequestration.

Then, of course, there is the pay freeze, which has been extended for a third year, to the end of 2013. Then there are continuing attacks on federal retirement, with proposals to boost pension contributions with no increase in annuity.

That effectively is a cut in take-home pay. Finally, there is sequestration, and the reality or at least the likelihood of unpaid furlough days through this fiscal year, which ends on September 30. Some employees face as many as 22 furlough days.

What, exactly, is sequestration?
Simply put, sequestration is a set of automatic, across-the-board cuts in federal spending. It was originally scheduled to go into effect at the end of 2012, but was delayed until March 1, 2013, by the fiscal cliff agreement, when it took effect.  (The fiscal cliff agreement, reached at the last minute, on Jan. 2, 2013, raised some taxes and pushed back sequestration for two months to March 1.)

For the balance of fiscal 2013—or until legislation is passed to end it—sequestration calls for automatically-imposed deep cuts totaling $85 billion in each agency’s budgetary resources. Because these cuts are across-the-board, there is very limited agency discretion in where to cut.

What’s more, and unless it is ended, sequestration is scheduled to continue cutting federal budgets for another nine years beyond fiscal 2013. The cuts under sequestration, shared equally between defense and non-defense spending—but excluding Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—will have to total $102 billion in each of those years. 

What is NTEU doing to ensure that federal employees can continue to do their jobs?
NTEU is working hard to end sequestration as promptly as possible. As part of that effort, NTEU is supporting the fiscal 2014 budget proposal contained in the budget resolution put forward by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Budget Committee. On March 23, the Senate passed the Murray budget, which would end sequestration and substitute a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit. The Senate’s budget resolution contains none of the anti-federal employee provisions of the House fiscal 2014 budget, advanced by Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.) and passed by the House on March 21. The House and Senate will now attempt to reconcile the differences between the two measures. NTEU is continually monitoring this process and is regularly educating members of Congress of the views and concerns of federal employees.

NTEU is in negotiations with agencies where furlough notices either have been issued or are expected. Our goal is to prevent furlough days, in part by urging agencies to make other cuts—such as examining government contracts—before taking personnel actions; and, where furloughs do occur, to mitigate the impacts as much as possible. These talks are ongoing.

What is the fiscal 2013 continuing resolution?
This is congressional action, taken during the third week in March, ensuring there will not be a government shutdown between now and the September 30 end of the 2013 fiscal year. Congress enacted, and President Obama signed into law, a continuing resolution funding agencies through September 30, which, while it averted a government shutdown, did not end sequestration.

The fiscal 2013 continuing resolution set agency resources in most instances at fiscal 2012 levels—but then the additional cuts required under sequestration kicked in, reducing available funding.

For more information about the Sequester and the Continuing Resolution please go to


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