Sequestration, once unimaginable, draws near

Sequestration, once unimaginable, draws near

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Barring a last-minute broadening of their legislative ambitions, congressional leaders struggling toward a minimalist deal on the fiscal cliff appear poised to allow the dreaded tool of sequestration to chop agency budgets when federal workers return from the holidays on Jan. 2.

Many long assumed it would never happen.

The Obama administration, after months of forbidding agency managers from overt planning for across-the-board cuts, finally relented early in December, beginning with the Defense Department on Dec. 5. And though layoffs, furloughs and canceled contracts are possible in the coming months, agencies have the tools to postpone action for several weeks in the hope that a new Congress in January could achieve a political and budgetary breakthrough. Continue reading “Sequestration, once unimaginable, draws near”