White House employees will take unpaid leave because of sequester

McClatchy NewspapersApril 11, 2013 

— It took a few weeks, but the so-called sequester is about to hit the White House.

The president’s staff will start implementing furloughs for 468 employees next month as part of the across-the-board budget cuts implemented March 1. Each employee must take three to 10 days of unpaid leave during a three-to seven-month period, according to the White House.

Notices also have been sent to employees at the Office of the Vice President, the Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality, the White House said.

The White House had previously announced that 480 employees at OMB would be furloughed for 10 days between April 21 and Sept. 1. But officials had been reluctant to discuss further cuts, though they had been asked by reporters regularly.

Each division within the Executive Office of the President will cut costs in a variety of ways including pay cuts, hiring slowdowns, delayed back-filling of open positions, scaling purchases of equipment and supplies, curtailing staff travel and reducing the use of air cards and subscriptions.

“All of this means that every EOP employee is dealing with the consequences both in their own lives and in their ability to do their job,” said a White House aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity under White House policy.

Some top deputies and advisers will have their paychecks docked the equivalent of one day’s pay.

The federal spending cuts – known in Washington as sequester – went into effect after President Barack Obama and congressional leaders failed to bridge a fundamental disagreement over spending and taxes.

The administration warned that the cuts would cause delays in air traffic, prompt teacher layoffs and hamper food inspections. Some agencies have reported employee furloughs, but critics have accused the White House of overstating the effects.

The White House has received criticism for canceling its public tours, though it has kept some events intact, such as the Easter Egg Roll and this weekend’s spring garden tour.

Obama said last week that he would return 5 percent of his $400,000 annual salary in a show of solidarity with federal workers following reports that several Cabinet secretaries would do the same. Since then, Vice President Joe Biden has said he would do the same.

Email: akumar@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @anitakumar01

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