Here Come the Furloughs

Expect to hear some real shrieks of pain tomorrow as the Department of Defense announces its furlough plans for civilian employees if (as is a reasonably safe bet at the moment) the “sequester” scheduled for March 1 takes place. Here’s a description from Stars and Stripes’ Chris Carroll:

The Defense Department intends to notify Congress on Wednesday of a plan to furlough nearly 800,000 civilian employees one day each week beginning in April, a defense official said Tuesday.

Federal law requires the Pentagon to warn Congress of furloughs at least 45 days in advance, and other regulations require direct notification of employees at least 30 days in advance….

Defense officials say the most likely scenario would be 22 days of furlough – one day each week – beginning in the last week of April and running through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Exceptions include political appointees and employees whose pay comes from sources other than Congressional appropriations. Those whose job functions are necessary to protect life and property would also be exempt.

Nevertheless, some DOD civilian firefighters, police officers, nurses and other emergency workers in fully staffed departments could still be furloughed.

It will probably be a while before we can assess the geographical impact of these furloughs. But it’s a pretty good bet the economic good times that insulated Northern Virginia from much of the Great Recession are about to come to an abrupt end.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.