On March 1, the first $85 billion of the $1.2 trillion sequester will go into effect, hitting almost every aspect of the government with across-the-board spending cuts.
The cuts go to the heart of several government functions — military readiness, food safety, flight logistics and law enforcement — and could prevent several agencies from functioning at their intended level.
$85 billion might seem like a drop in the bucket, but indiscriminate cuts will have consequences.
Military leaders and the President have maintained that the troops' compensation will not be affected by sequestration, and that service men and women don't need to worry about getting their basic pay or housing allowances.
But the troops do need to keep on eye on their health care coverage. The defence Health Program is one notable exception that is eligible for sequester, and is set to receive $3 billion in cuts unless Congress moves money from another account to cover the shortfall.
Budget cuts to the defence Health Program could also affect research, including studies of post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and infectious diseases.
As the largest funder of research and development, the Department of defence will be feeling deep cuts in weapons development, missile defence, and space-based communications.
An analysis from the AAAS pegs DoD cuts at over $30 billion, meaning they'll likely have to take a hard look at big budget programs like the Joint Strike Fighter.
The Pentagon's new R&D budget would closely resemble the one that was in place 12 years ago.
Purchases of new weapons, aircraft, and ships all will take a big hit under sequestration, as will funding for ammunition, fuel, and spare parts, according to one report from Army Times.
Since most contracts are working on funds appropriated a year or more ago, the defence industry won't be forced to make drastic cuts right away -- but they will come in 2014 when the full effects are realised.
At that time, the Pentagon will have to scramble to renegotiate hundreds of contracts to fit within its slimmer budget, and cut back on the number of tanks, planes, ships, and bullets they actually can afford.
It's not only the military that will be affected.
According to the Federal Times, every FBI employee, including special agents, will be furloughed for almost three weeks by the end of September if the sequestration isn't averted.
The bureau would rotate the furloughs to lessen the impact, but 'the impact of that sequestration would be felt for many years in the future,' said FBI Director Robert Mueller.
NASA is already operating on a reduced budget, but sequester would mean more cuts for the agency.
The largest impact of the cuts would be a continued reliance on Russia for transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Other cuts could result in cancellations of technology projects, flight demonstration projects, and the elimination of research grants, according to science blog io9.
The NNSA is responsible for management and security of U.S. nuclear weapons, nonproliferation, and naval reactor programs, in addition to responding to radiological emergencies.
Obama proposed an increase of $535 million in his 2013 budget request, but that would be reversed in the event of the sequester, adding to the $500 million reduction included in the sequester.
Serious cuts are coming to humanitarian aid, assistance to Israel, and funding for diplomatic security abroad, according to Secretary of State John Kerry.
'Sequestration would force the Department and USAID to make across-the-board reductions of $2.6 billion to fiscal 2013 funding levels under the continuing resolution,' Kerry wrote in a letter to Sen. Barbara Milkuski (D-MD) on Feb. 11.
Specifics reductions include:
- $200 million from humanitarian assistance (such as disaster funding)
- $400 million from global health funding (such as anti-AIDS programs)
- $500 million from global security accounts
- $300 million from foreign military financing (including Israel, Egypt, Jordan)
- $70 million from USAID operations
U.S. meat and poultry processing could come to an abrupt halt if federal meat inspectors are put on a two-week furlough, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has warned.
The USDA -- which inspects all meat, poultry and dairy products for quality -- will be hit with the across the board cut. As a result, the futures market for cattle has entered a downward slide, and production losses could hit $10 billion according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
The NCBA also projected $400 million in wage losses for industry workers and limited meat and poultry supplies nationwide.
The FAA budget will be cut by $600 million, which could result in air traffic controllers being furloughed one day per pay period, according to AVWeb.
Budget cuts could close air traffic control towers, reduce flight capacity and cost 132,000 jobs, according to the Aerospace Industries Association.
The move could cut two billion pounds of freight capacity due to the reductions in staff and could delay or cancel flights for millions of passengers all year, a Second to None study showed.
The centre for Disease Control will also be hit by sequestration, and it could result in a diminished ability for the agency to protect Americans from infectious diseases.
According to the American Public Health Association the CDC will be unable to immunize a projected 30,000 children and 20,000 adults, and may have to eliminate staff responsible for implementing vaccination programs at the state and local level. The cuts would hit HIV/AIDS prevention programs, cut back on food-borne illness investigations and hurt the ability to respond to biological threats.
At the National Institutes of Health, billions will be cut after sequestration, restricting the agency's ability to give research grants and carry out their own studies into fatal disease and cancer, the Washington Post reported.
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