Feds cringe at possibility of more forced budget cuts
September 23rd, 2013
03:38 PM ET
9 years ago

Feds cringe at possibility of more forced budget cuts

Washington (CNN) – The leadership of federal law enforcement agencies is bracing for some real pain/tough choices if forced budget cuts are implemented again next year.

The Obama administration’s ongoing standoff with Republicans over Obamacare and the budget means forced budget cuts from the so-called “sequestration” will be likely. The administration is pushing Congress to find a long-term solution that would restore some of the sequestered cuts.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Jim Comey, who took office earlier this month and is facing his first major investigation into the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, spoke out last week about the potential impact to his agency.

He says he may have to furlough his 36,000 employees between 10 days and two weeks. Unless Congress restores funding as part of a resolution to pay for running the government, he says the FBI faces a cut of nearly $800 million in the next budget year.

Federal agencies, including the FBI, also warned of the impact of similar cuts last year, but managed to find funds to move to plug the fiscal hole. So why should Congress heed the warnings this year?
“I’m not playing a game, I’m not crying wolf, ” Comey said in a briefing with reporters.

His predecessor, Robert Mueller, did the equivalent of “looking through the couch cushions for extra money. Now, the couch has been turned upside down.”

The agency doesn’t have a new class of agents going into training at its academy in Quantico, Va., and has to forgo buying equipment. The FBI, Comey says, can’t endure another year without cutting into its salary budget.

“That cupboard is bare. I can’t avoid it this year,” Comey says.

The cuts apply to other agencies too, and they add to restrictions that raised concerns at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that a wave of retiring agents may not be replaced. ATF’s facility in Martinsburg, WV, that conducts gun tracing laid off 98 contractors earlier this year.

The Justice Department says it has a hiring freeze to save personnel costs and has cut back on travel, equipment and training, as well as contract costs.

Ellen Canale, a Justice spokeswoman, says, “Unless Congress adopts a balanced deficit reduction plan and stops the further reductions currently slated for Fiscal Year 2014, the department will have no choice but to institute furloughs. Furloughs, on top of our current, hefty loss in personnel due to budget constraints, means our core mission to protect the American people, to safeguard vital programs and precious resources, and to hold criminals accountable will suffer.”

The Justice Department estimates its share of the sequestration cuts could go from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.1 billion in fiscal 2014.

The department says it is still looking at funding needs for fiscal year 2014 to determine its effect on employees. Since January 2011 through August 2013, the Justice Department has lost a net of approximately 3,500 staff department-wide due to budget constraints.

Filed under: FBI • James Comey • Justice Department
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    The sequestration cuts are bad policy. If you want proof, just look at most the economies in the E.U. Look at Great Britain, which has been enacting draconian spending cuts since 2009, which is reeling through another economic trough, is experiencing a a triple dip recession. Every country that has allowed conservatives to call their shots is reeling economically.

    September 23, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. O'drama ya Mama

    Why dont we discuss the budget the way it was supposed to be discussed. Without tying any laws that have absolutely nothing to do with funding the government to the deal.

    September 23, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  3. RandyIA

    And this is different than any other business or person who has outspent their income in what way?

    September 23, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  4. jinx9to88

    I hope defense budget feels the cuts like every other agency.

    September 23, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    More cuts = More crime. But what does Congress care?

    September 23, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. Data Driven

    Many conservatives won't care about this. Heck, most of them support buying WMD at gun shows; it follows that they don't like cops very much, either.

    I think it was Goethe who sed, "Every man his own Wyatt Earp"

    September 23, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein

    There is no need for this. The tea-publicans don't want to spend money on anything. They would prefer that there be enough government to print their money (enough for just them) and to have enough armed forces to protect the continential US. That is likely an exageration but is how I feel from what these people have done. There has been little room to compromise as should be done in Congress.

    September 23, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    Just remember folks: the Right wingers support all of us. They all work harder than any of us. They are more God-fearing than the rest of us. They also have the Christian God behind them. So, if they say we need to gut every single program to give an earthly reward to them for being more righteous, then who are we to stand it their way? After all, they have such a great track record with telling the truth, and being their brother's keeper, so it must be ok to gut every program except nation defense. Its ok to let the NRA decide how laws are to be implememted in this country. Its ok to turn power back to the states, since they are pure in their motives and so noble in virtue that we MUST do what they say, or they will destroy the nation. Just remember, folks, they are destroying everything so they feel free, and we MUST do what they say. After all, a bunch of college dropouts on the radio who are the best snake-oil salesmen in history are so much smarter than the rest of us. They want to make us like Somalia, only bigger and better. They are the ones who cheer the Confederacy, rather than the Union. Just remember, they are the ones who hold us together, and you are nothing more than an idiot, a parasite, or a traitor if you even speak well of their opposition.

    September 23, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Me: "Point is you should vote on a person's policies not what party they belong to and until Americans decide to do the right thing we will continue with this ultra partisan divide this country has. In fact I think the only way to end this partisan divide is to do away with ALL parties and ONLY run on your values and policies alone!"

    Not any more. Big dollars from both parties kind of blew the lid off of voting "policies", and the Tea Party blew the lid off of voting Republican.

    As for the partisan divide. Yeah. It's "there" to be seen by all. I will defend myself when justified, so yeah, as you stated, I too can go after the "other" side. As in defense, not offense. That and the fact that I've been around the block many times over. I KNOW why this country is the way it is ... economically and politically.

    Sorry, Me. I'm going to stick with the Dem's until they too throw me out of their party. At this point, Dems are so much less an evil than the GOP. For me anyway. At this point, Republicans have no idea what they stand for, let alone who they stand with. That in itself is a huge problem. How on earth would I know what I'm voting for if the dude with the [ R ] next to his name can't be bothered to figure out himself/herself what they represent. If what is happening in red states across America is an indication of where the [ Rs ] want to take this country, count me out.

    But, hey. Vote however you will and for whomever you want.

    September 23, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Tampa Tim

    Too bad the republican congress has not been furloughed. A cut in their take home pay might give them a reality check.

    September 23, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Thank the do nothing obstructionist GOP for trying to starve the government , that's been their stradagy all along!!!! If they don't like the program then they block money for it , that's what their trying to do right now with obamacare. They don't care if it effects you as long as it doesn't effect them!!!!

    September 23, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. rs

    O'drama ya Mama

    Why dont we discuss the budget the way it was supposed to be discussed. Without tying any laws that have absolutely nothing to do with funding the government to the deal.
    What would be the fun in that? The GOP would get nothing!

    September 23, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. RandyIA

    I keep hearing people blame the GOP, isn't the Senate the one who has not passed a budget in how many years now? Heck has a senate bill even been put to a vote or has King Harry shut them all down?

    September 23, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    "And this is different than any other business or person who has outspent their income in what way?"
    A nation state is not a household or an individual. To expect them to be run the same way is naive. There are inherent responsibilities that the government has that are not a requirement for a household. An individual or business is only able to barrow on collateral or future earnings. A government is able to print their own money, tax their populations, and set their own interest rates. A household, individual or business can only raise additional income if they get paid more or sell more product etc. A government can raise more revenue from taxes, lease public lands, collect royalties on public resources, many other options including simply printing more of it. There are trade offs for each revenue raising strategy. Cutting costs is also a strategy, however with almost 25% of the countries GDP tied directly to spending by the federal government it is foolish to expect that cuts will not ripple and magnify if enacted to swiftly or harshly.

    September 23, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The GOP needs to be thrown out of the house in 2014 and give control to the only sane people in the room, the dems!'!!!

    September 23, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. cecv

    If the Dems actually CARED about budget, they'd try to at least discuss a budget on the floor of the Senate. The house has sent over multiple budgets but Reid's Senate doesn't even allow them to be discussed on the floor! This CR is a result of the Dem Senate refusing to discuss the House budget. The Dems only care about a budget when their Dear Leader tells them it will score political points. Otherwise, they do not care and Obama does not require them to do their basic job. Dems own this entire mess!

    September 23, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |