Summary of potential impact of federal budget sequester on select national security operations

By SB Anderson

Below are national-security focused summaries from a House Appropriations Committee minority report released a few days ago on potential impact of federal furloughs and operational cuts in selected areas that might be part of the looming automatic federal budget spending cuts. (Full report PDF

The biggest impact on the average person might well be at the airport, with cuts to the TSA, FAA and Customs.  

“Travel could become the face of the sequester. There are few areas that Americans are going to be touched more directly,” Geoff Freeman, chief operating officer and executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association, told Bloomberg News. 


In the near term, CBP may  need to furlough CBP Officers and Border Patrol Agents between 12 and 14 days.  These  furloughs would significantly increase wait times for visitors at our Nation’s land ports of entry, and for passengers at airports. At the busiest airports, the increase in peak airport wait times would regularly reach three or more hours. These delays would dramatically impact air travel, potentially causing thousands of missed passenger connections daily, and negatively impact our economy.


The TSA would reduce its frontline workforce, including a seven-day furlough for TSA screeners, which may result in adding to current passenger wait times by as much as an additional hour at the nation’s largest and busiest airport security checkpoints.  


The Coast Guard would have to curtail air and surface operations by nearly 25 percent, adversely impacting maritime safety and security across nearly all mission areas.  A reduction of this magnitude will substantially reduce drug interdiction,  migrant interdiction, fisheries law enforcement, aids to navigation, and other law enforcement operations as well as impact the safe flow of commerce along U.S. waterways.


Civilian employees will face severe cuts; the Department  of Defense (DoD) is considering the furlough of up to 800,000 civilian employees (the  entire workforce) for up to 22 days.  DoD is also in the process of implementing hiring freezes… . The furloughs and hiring freeze will impact veterans most heavily because veterans make up 44 percent of the DOD civilian workforce.

(Included is a state-by-state table of potential payroll impact based on civilian Air Force furloughs)


FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund would be reduced by over $1 billion dollars, impacting survivors recovering from Hurricane Sandy and recent winter storms, and affecting the  economic recoveries of local economies in those regions.  …FEMA’s state and local homeland security grants funding would also be reduced by  over $120 million.  This reduction could lead to layoffs of state and local emergency personnel and first responders.