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Federal furloughs hang on budget action

Feb. 9, 2013 at 1:27 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Hundreds of thousands of federal workers could be furloughed if Congress fails to short-circuit automatic U.S. budget cuts next month, officials say.

The Office of Management and Budget says $85 billion in cuts would be triggered if lawmakers can't reach an agreement on reducing the federal debt by March 1, The Hill reported Saturday.

While federal workers and contractors say they are concerned about the potential sequestration, they add they are also tired of dealing with the threat, which also loomed last year.

The Budget Control Act of August 2011 set up the cuts as a way to force Congress to reach a consensus on tax and spending issues. Instead, it forced agencies to prepare for contingencies that are not intended to take place.

If sequestration takes effect, as many as 800,000 civilians employers of the Defense Department could be furloughed for as long as 22 days and their salaries would be cut by 20 percent, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.

OMB Controller Danny Werfel said Friday most furloughed workers would be given 30 days notice.

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