What Will Sequestration Actually Do?

Federal early childhood education program Head Start will face cuts that force administrators to limit the number of spaces available. Latino children make up more than a third of the program's participants, so the cuts will disproportionately impact Hispanics. Sequestration will also reduce funding for programs aimed at children with disabilities.

"There is no reason that 70,000 kids should get kicked out of Head Start preschools," Janet Murguía, President and CEO of Latino advocacy organization the National Council of La Raza said in a statement. "We are shooting ourselves in the foot every day that we allow these cuts to continue."

6. Federal Employees

Many federal workers will be hit with required furloughs once the cuts take effect. As the Huffington Post pointed out, "More than half of the nation's 2.1 million government workers may be required to take furloughs if agencies are forced to trim budgets. At the Pentagon alone that could mean 800,000 civilian workers would be off for 22 days each, spread across more than five months – and lose 20 percent of their pay over that period." The furloughs will hit more than just Defense Department employees. Seasonal park workers will not be hired because the national parks will be open for limited amounts of time, air traffic controllers will see reduced hours, and workers at Arlington National Cemetery could be hit with furloughs, which could tighten the number of veteran funerals carried out each day.

Can We Fix It?

Even though some of the initial cuts have taken effect, Congress still has a chance to work out a deal. And if they don't, cuts that may seem drastic right now will seem minor. On March 27, the Continuing Resolution that funds the discretionary operations of the federal government runs out.

As Slate noted recently, "When that happens, it's lights out—quite literally. There are some exceptions for emergency personnel and entitlement programs (think Medicare) [sic] keep functioning, but when the CR expires, the government shuts down. All 'non-essential' federal employees are put on furlough, and programs simply stop functioning. The National Parks will close down, and the Centers for Disease Control won't track infections. Visa and passport applications won't be processed. Nor will new applications for disability benefits. Regulatory agencies will take a break."

The deadline isn't actually March 27, either. Congress has scheduled a two-week Easter Recess for March 22, so lawmakers will need to work out a solution before they leave town.

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