The Washington Post

Sequestration affecting congressional hiring, Rep. Goodlatte says

The Obama administration has been warning for months that millions of federal employees could face furloughs and potential layoffs if forced budget cuts go into effect this Friday as slated.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

But the cuts, totaling roughly $85 billion, also apply to congressional budgets. So how are lawmakers planning to cut back, if necessary?

For House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the solution appears to be keeping some jobs unfilled, just in case.

Appearing Sunday on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" and facing questions from a Washington Post reporter, Goodlatte said sequestration has factored into his hiring decisions as he assumed control of the Judiciary committee in recent weeks.

“I’ve been meeting with my committee staff and my personal staff to talk about how the impact of sequestration will affect our budget and making sure that our expenses do not exceed the lowered amount that would take place if sequestration takes affect," Goodlatte said.

Asked whether his budget cutting would include furloughs or potential layoffs, he said "we have been taking this into account with our hiring both on the committee and in my congressional office, so I hope to be able to avoid that."

An spokeswoman didn't immediately return requests for clarification on how many jobs Goodlatte is potentially keeping open and how many people his personal and committee offices employ.

In the interview, Goodlatte suggested that federal agencies also should have spent the last year preparing for the adverse affects of sequestration by keeping at least some positions vacant -- just in case.

"Any government agency that has been listening to what’s been going on for the last year and a half since this issue came up I would hope has also taken that into account in their hiring practices so that they can mitigate the affect and maybe not have filled all the positions that they were entitled to fill in a larger budget if they’re facing a reduction right now," he said. "I don’t have the faith that all of them have done that, but I have and I know many other members of the House have been watching that very carefully."

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Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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