Democrats and Republicans decried the beginning of sequestration-induced Pentagon furloughs for civilian employees by blaming each side for not stepping in and preventing the cuts.
The 11 days of unpaid leave amount to a 20 percent pay cut over the next three months for hundreds of thousands of workers across the Defense Department.
Some of the furloughed employees organized a 5-mile “Run for Freedom” from the Pentagon to the Capitol on Monday evening.
“I am disappointed that today hundreds of thousands of federal employees, many of them vital to our national security, will be furloughed under sequestration. Even more disappointing is that these furloughs were wholly preventable,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.).
“The House has voted, repeatedly, to reverse sequestration. For two years now, we have toiled to prevent and then stop these cuts,” he continued. “But at the end of the day, the buck stops at the president’s desk. Without his leadership, the House, Senate, and White House are at an impossible impasse.”
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) noted the furloughs happened “while Republicans work on their debt limit ransom note.”
“Republicans refuse to join Democrats in a budget conference and work with us to replace all of sequestration in a responsible and fair way,” Murray said. “The people I talk to in Washington state and the vast majority of families across the country agree that sequestration is a terrible way to cut spending, and there is no reason for Republicans to try to push us to the next manufactured crisis before we get to work on a balanced replacement.”
McKeon said “this crisis stops when the president decides for it to stop.”
“When and if he does, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and work to find a solution,” he said.