Pentagon Readying 800,000 for Rolling Layoffs

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon is preparing to notify its entire civilian workforce to prepare for furloughs if Congress and President Barack Obama are unable to reach a deal before Jan. 2 to avert automatic spending cuts.

A senior defense official said Sunday that the Pentagon would notify 800,000 civilian workers to brace for furloughs in the new year, meaning the workers would be ordered to take mandatory leave without pay for a certain period. The warning is much gloomier than the agency recently offered employees, as it had said there wouldn’t be an immediate impact on personnel or operations if a deal wasn’t reached by January

The automatic spending cuts were put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act and require $110 billion in spending reductions, split between defense programs and other domestic agencies. The cuts must take place in the first nine months of 2013, and then $110 billion in cuts will take place for eight additional years, under the conditions of the 2011 law. Democrats and Republicans have been working to replace or postpone the cuts but they have been unable to reach an agreement.

The Pentagon will be forced to cut $55 billion in spending in the first nine months of 2013, a roughly 10% reduction in many of its programs. The cuts would affect more than just the agency’s workforce, as the White House has said the military’s budgets for purchasing aircraft, ammunition, missiles and other items will be cut sharply.

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