The sequester law exempts Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps and Medicare recipients' benefits from cuts, but most programs are vulnerable.
The cuts were expected to mean reductions this year of 8 percent in defense and 5 percent in nondefense programs. But because lawmakers recently delayed the impact until March 1 â¿¿ meaning they will affect only the last seven months of the government's budget year â¿¿ the sequester will force deeper reductions of 13 percent for defense and 9 percent for other programs.
â¿¿Defense: The Defense Department announced last week that because of the cuts it is withdrawing one of its two aircraft carriers from the Persian Gulf region, but there's more coming.
The Navy's top officer, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, told Congress that because of the sequester and already planned long-range reductions, the Navy could not fully support counterterrorism operations in Somalia and Yemen. A letter the Pentagon sent to Congress this week says the military will protect operations for ongoing wars, but expects to curtail maintenance of aircraft and ships, reduce training and maintenance for some Army units and cut Air Force flying hours. There would probably be a freeze in hiring civilians, instead of the 1,500 to 2,000 new jobs monthly. Current civilian workers could be furloughed up to 22 days. And the military's Tricare health care system could lose $3 billion, threatening elective care for some military dependents and retirees.
â¿¿Homeland Security: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wrote to Congress that there will be fewer border agents and fewer facilities for detained illegal immigrants. There would be reduced Coast Guard air and sea operations, furloughed Secret Service agents and weakened efforts to detect cyberthreats to computer networks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund would lose more than $1 billion. "We do not have the luxury of making significant reductions to our capabilities without placing our nation at risk," Napolitano wrote.