Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis expects President Obama and Congress to reach a deal to avoid going over the financial cliff on Jan. 2, 2013, but even if they don't settle things in time, nothing much will happen in her department if mandatory spending cuts - akak "sequestration" - are implemented.
"I do not expect our day-to-day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after January 2, should sequestration occur. This means that we will not be executing any immediate personnel actions, such as furloughs, on that date," she told Department of Labor employees in a memorandum circulated today.
|‘I do not expect our day-to-day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after January 2, should sequestration occur.--- Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’|
"Should we have to operate under reduced funding levels for an extended period of time, we may have to consider furloughs or other actions in the future. But let me assure you that we will carefully examine other options to reduce costs within the agency before taking such action, taking into consideration our obligation to execute our core mission," Solis said.
Solis did not say in her memo what would constitute "an extended period of time."
And even if spending cuts did lead to the need to furlough federal employees, Solis said, "we would provide affected employees the requisite advance notice before a furlough or other personnel action would occur. We would also immediately cancel any scheduled personnel actions should a deficit reduction agreement be reached that restores our agency funding."
The federal government employees about 2.7 million civilian workers, including more than 17,000 at the Labor Department, according to data compiled by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Solis's comments appear to contradict warnings from Obama and other administration officials that House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders must accept a deal before the Jan. 2 deadline that would allow the government to avoid sequestration.
The sequestration process - which would cut more than $1 trillion from the federal budget, with half coming from the Department of Defense and the other half from non-entitlement program spending - was approved by Obama and Congress in 2011 as a means of forcing them to take further action in 2012.