Sometimes the decisions of the past can come back to haunt us. As we sit here in early 2013, we look back at August 2011 and have to ask, “What were they thinking?” In August 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 to avoid surpassing the debt-ceiling, the Congressionally mandated limit to how much our country can legally borrow. The threat of exceeding the debt-ceiling threatened to shut down the government and cause harm to our country’s ability to borrow money in the future. As a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress enacted a sequestration, which essentially means mandated spending cuts across all virtually all government spending, including civilian and military programs, homeland security, health care, the Department of Transportation, education programs, Congressional spending, and more.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 was more or less rushed through Congress at the last hour, with the intent on changing the language before the sequestration took effect. Unfortunately, Congress has not agreed upon new language to the act, and the spending cuts went into effect on March 1st. Unless something changes soon, the military will see many changes. Here are a few changes we expect to see, unless something happens soon.
Military Pay Safe – Some Benefits Will Be Cut
DoD Officials have stated that pay for military members will be exempted from the sequestration cuts enacted on March 1, 2013. Base pay and benefits such as BAH and BAS should remain intact.
However, the military has already stated some non-monetary benefits many service members take advantage of will be impacted. For example, military tuition assistance has already been cut from the Army and Marines. It is likely these changes will also affect all branches of the military. Other programs that may be affected include MWR programs and education programs.
DoD Civilian Pay will be Impacted
DoD civilian pay will be cut in the form of furloughs, virtually across the board. The furloughs will affect approximately 800,000 DoD civilians. To put this in perspective, the US Air Force will furlough approximately 168,000 DoD civilians, to the tune of $1.3 billion in missed pay. Here is an infographic showing the pay cuts, courtesy of AF.mil.
According to AF.mil, “Civilians may be furloughed without pay for up to 22 discontinuous (or 30 continuous) days spread over a maximum number of pay periods possible with no more than 16 hours furloughed in pay period. The covered pay periods are from April to September 2013.”
Some reports state the furloughs could cost civilians one day pay per week for the next five months, or until Congress approves a new budget. One day per week would equate to a 20% cut in pay. Each branch of service will be able to approve a limited number of exemptions for high-impact mission related jobs. These will be few and far between.
Many temporary employees and contractors have already been given layoff notices.