Yesterday, the Defense Department announced it would have to furlough over 600,000 workers come July, claiming it “has no choice” because of the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester. Yet, other agencies have been able to find ways to make the required spending cuts without furloughing any employees. Did the Pentagon really try “everything they could” to avoid furloughing workers? A recent GAO report showing that millions were wasted on new camouflage patterns indicates that smarter cuts could be made at the Defense Department.
DEFENSE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF FURLOUGHS
Defense Department to Furlough 680,000 Civilian Workers. “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told 680,000 civilian workers they’d have to stay home 11 days without pay. About 140,000 workers from other government agencies have already been given furlough notices. The number is expected to grow as more department heads make their own tough decisions on how to swallow their share of $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts.” (Darren Samuelsohn, “Sequestration Gets Real For Furloughed Workers,” POLITICO, 5/14/13)
Chuck Hagel Says They Have No Choice In Furloughing Workers:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: “We Don’t Have a Choice.” “’We don’t have a choice,’ Hagel said during a town hall meeting with defense employees in Alexandria, Va. ‘We did everything we could not to get to this day, this way. But that’s it. That’s where we are.’” (Darren Samuelsohn, “Sequestration Gets Real For Furloughed Workers,” POLITICO, 5/14/13)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: “We Did Everything We Could Not To Get To This Day.” (Steve Vogel, “Hagel Announces Hundreds Of Thousands Of Furloughs At Defense Department,” Washington Post, 5/14/13)
WHILE OTHER AGENCIES ARE ABLE TO AVOID CUTS
Is The White House Playing Favorites?
White House’s Communications Policy on Sequester Has A “No Surprises” Rule. “While multiple agency officials told POLITICO they’ve had the freedom to make their own decisions on what gets cut, a senior aide in one Cabinet department said there’s still a ‘no surprises rule’ when it comes to the White House’s communications policy on the sequester. ‘They’re not trying to micromanage those plans,” said the Obama Cabinet official. “They just want to know what the impact is going to be so they’re not surprised.’” (Darren Samuelsohn, “Sequestration Gets Real For Furloughed Workers,” POLITICO, 5/14/13)
Other Agencies Found Flexibility:
Sequestration Is Being Handled Differently At Each Agency. “What’s clear so far is that sequestration isn’t being handled the same at each agency, several of which got more money in March, thanks to Congress. The air traffic controllers and meat inspectors also got special deals that allowed them to avoid furloughs.” (Darren Samuelsohn, “Sequestration Gets Real For Furloughed Workers,” POLITICO, 5/14/13)
Joe Biden’s Office Avoids Furloughs, Pay Cuts; Found Other Ways To Make Budget Cuts. “Like most of the federal government, the office of the vice president is subject to across the board spending cuts, but an administration official tells me Biden’s office has been able to do what the FAA – and president’s own staff – have been unable to do: make the required spending cuts without furloughing any employees. The VP’s office, I am told, is not furloughing anybody and not requiring any staff to take pay cuts. They have found other ways to make the required budget cuts. The VP’s office won’t say how they have made the cuts.” (Jonathan Karl, “Sheriff Joe Biden Avoids Furloughs,” ABC News, 4/23/13)
Meat Inspectors Avoided Furloughs In A “Special Step” From Congress. “Congress approved $55 million on Thursday to prevent the furlough of all U.S. meat inspectors this summer, a step that could have driven up meat prices and created spot shortages in grocery stores and restaurants. … In a special step, lawmakers shifted $55 million in Agriculture Department funding so that its food safety agency would have enough money to keep its 8,400 inspectors on the job.” (Charles Abbott, “US meat inspector furloughs avoided as Congress approves funding,” Reuters, 3/21/13)
FAA Head: Agency Has Some Discretion To Prioritize, Move Funds. DOT: We Already Used Flexibility. “Last week at a Senate hearing [FAA head Michael] Huerta acknowledged under questioning that, in fact, his agency does have some discretion to prioritize and move funds to higher priorities from lower ones. But DOT claims it has already used this flexibility and still can’t avoid cuts to air-traffic control.” (Editorial: “Flight Delays as Political Strategy,” Wall Street Journal, 4/22/13)
FLASHBACK: PENTAGON SPENT MILLIONS ON NEW CAMOUFLAGE UNIFORMS
U.S. Military Camouflage An “Expensive Case Study In Federal Duplication”: “In 2002, the U.S. military had just two kinds of camouflage uniforms. One was green, for the woods. The other was brown, for the desert. Then things got strange. Today, there is one camouflage pattern just for Marines in the desert. There is another just for Navy personnel in the desert. The Army has its own ‘universal’ camouflage pattern, which is designed to work anywhere. It also has another one just for Afghanistan, where the first one doesn’t work. … In just 11 years, two kinds of camouflage have turned into 10. And a simple aspect of the U.S. government has emerged as a complicated and expensive case study in federal duplication.” (David A. Fahrenthold, “With 10 Patterns, U.S. Military Branches Out On Camouflage Front,” The Washington Post, 5/8/13)
GAO Finds The Pentagon Spent More Than $12 Million On Designing New Camouflage Patterns: “At the Pentagon, a GAO study commissioned by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that the military services have spent more than $12 million on designing new camouflage patterns. The cost of buying, stocking and shipping 10 different types of camouflage uniforms is believed to be millions more. Is anybody trying to fix this?” (David A. Fahrenthold, “With 10 Patterns, U.S. Military Branches Out On Camouflage Front,” The Washington Post, 5/8/13)
The Washington Post’s Photojournalist Melina Mara received unprecedented access to Vice President Joe Biden. Mara discusses travelling with Biden as he met with civil rights leaders and lawmakers.
Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden share a stage; Rutgers fires basketball coach Mike Rice; One World Trade Center previews its observation deck and more.
President Barack Obama met with families of gun violence victims at the White House on Wednesday. In a speech, he said an upcoming Senate vote is the best chance in more than a decade to pass gun control legislation.
President Obama urged lawmakers to pass his gun-control agenda in an emotional and forceful speech at the White House on Thursday.
Biden calls nuns ‘lovely women’ in Vatican. Pope Urges Dialogue With Islam and Says World Must Do More for Poor. Pope Francis Meets With Other Religious Leaders. Pope Francis makes good first impression on U.S. Catholics
Pope Francis greeted 132 delegates from across the world today at his inauguration including Vice President Joe Biden.
Pope Francis called for the defense of the weakest in society at his inaugural mass today in St. Peter’s Basilica.
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Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her support for gay marriage Monday, putting her in line with other potential Democratic presidential candidates on a social issue that is rapidly gaining public approval.
One of the least Catholic and most pro-abortion members of Congress, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has been added to the official U.S. delegation to attend the installation of newly-elected Pope Francis.
Pelosi will join pro-abortion Vice President Joe Biden to attend the Inauguration Mass celebrating the Pontificate of His Holiness Pope Francis, which will take place on March 19.
The news comes as newwly-elected Pope Francis used his second-ever blessing as the head of the Catholic Church to bless a pregnant mother and her unborn child. Pope Francis, who as been hailed by pro-life advocates once called abortion a “death sentence” for unborn children, during a 2007 speech and likening opposition to abortion to opposition to the death penalty.
But the former House Speaker has repeatedly clashed with and criticized the Catholic Church on pro-life issues.
In 2011, Pelosi was upset that the nation’s Catholic bishops protested the Obama administration decision forcing insurance companies to cover birth control, contraception and drugs that could cause abortions. They are upset certain religious groups may not be exempt from providing the insurance, which would violate their moral and religious views.
Pelosi saidthe position is akin to having hospitals “say to a woman, ‘I’m sorry you could die’ if you don’t get an abortion,” she told the Washington Post.
“Those who dispute that characterization “may not like the language,’’ she said, “but the truth is what I said. I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it . . . but they have this conscience thing” that the Post said Pelosi “insists put women at physical risk, although Catholic providers strongly disagree.”
Pelosi also defended controversial remarks she made about a bill to prevent Obamacare from funding abortions, where she claimed Republicans “want women to die on the floor.”
Vice President Joe Biden narrates photos of himself in the regular feature – which commenters hope will be something like a Biden reality show.