“You can’t get there in the same way,” the FBI official said.
The FBI’s sequester reductions for fiscal 2013 included cutbacks in hiring, training and equipment purchases. Although furloughs during the next cycle would affect investigations and intelligence gathering, they would not prevent the agency from responding to serious incidents such as a terrorist event, the official said.
Last week, newly placed FBI director James Comey expressed concern that furloughing employees under a continued sequester would impact agency operations. “I can’t imagine that if we have charged people with protecting their fellow citizens that it makes sense to send them home and tell them you can’t work for two weeks without pay,” he said at a news conference.
Congress could act to stop the government-wide reductions, but lawmakers would have to come up with a plan to trim the deficit by an equal amount through taxes, alternative spending cuts, or both.
Many of the dire sequester predictions from federal agencies have failed to materialize during the current fiscal year, although the $85 billion worth of budget cuts caused real reductions in many programs that people depend on.