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Administration Details Deep Sequester Cuts to States

Furloughs of about 730,000 Defense Department civilian employees would cost the states $4.43 billion in lost salaries and billions more in military operating expenditures if Congress fails to avert sequester, according to documents released by the Obama administration late Sunday.

Virginia, California, Texas, Maryland and Georgia would be the top five most affected states, touching almost 290,000 civilian workers at a loss of $1.87 billion in wages. The document dump is part of an effort by the administration to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to do something to avert across-the-board cuts expected to begin March 1.

Both Republicans and Democrats, however, appear to have settled into a high-stakes game of chicken, with Republicans refusing to budge on any further increases in taxes. Meanwhile Democrats insist that the $1.2 trillion in federal savings over nine years required to avert sequester be achieved by both new revenues and cuts to discretionary and mandatory programs.

Most lawmakers appear to be resigned to the idea that sequester will not be averted by March 1, but many hold out hope of reaching some kind of deal that could be in place at the time Congress must renew a continuing resolution that sunsets March 27.

J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, introduced legislation Monday that would remove the Pentagon from the sequester and reduce the size of sequester by about $500 billion over the next nine years.

“Sequestration cuts eclipse any other national security threat facing our nation,” Forbes said in a statement. “Lawmakers in Washington have crossed a red line in our constitutional duty — outlined in the first sentence of the U.S. Constitution — to provide for the common defense.”

Virginia by far would be most affected by the furloughs, with some 90,000 civilians expected to lose about 22 days of work over the seven months left in fiscal 2013. Those furloughs would amount to more than $648 million in lost wages. The state also would lose more than $150 million in military operating funds, and maintenance of about 11 naval vessels would be canceled.

California would be the second most affected, with about 64,000 civilians facing furloughs, adding up to a loss of almost $400 million in wages and almost $70 million in military operating funds. Also maintenance of five naval vessels would be canceled.

Texas would be next on the list, with about 52,000 civilian employees losing about $275 million in wages, and $260 million in operations funds. The state would also lose F-35 Joint Strike Fighter procurement money and a planned airshow.

Maryland would lose $354 million in wages for 46,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department, as well as about $105 million in military operating money. It also would lose $9 million in funding for a demolition project in the Patuxent River. Aircraft depot maintenance at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station could be canceled, as well as Blue Angels shows in Annapolis and Ocean City.

“These are real impacts in real communities with real consequences,” said Barbara A. Mikulski, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We must stop sequester with a balanced approach to reducing our debt and deficit that includes reforms to the tax code, strategic cuts to mandatory spending and gives credit for cuts already taken.”

About 37,000 civilians would face furloughs in Georgia, with a loss of about $190 million in salaries and almost $240 million in military operations funding.

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