Weekly Roundup: Sequester Pain Continues to Be Felt Across the Country

A look at headlines across the country reveals that the pain of the irrational cuts from the sequester continue to be felt across the country:

USA Today: Sequester hits special education like 'a ton of bricks'

“…many schools have eliminated resource rooms where children can go to get help in areas such as math, reading, writing and organizational skills. Many schools will have fewer speech, occupational or physical therapists, along with social workers and school psychologists, which means students who previously received speech therapy twice a week might only receive it once week, for example. And in some general education classrooms that had two teachers – one for the whole class and one specifically to support students with special needs – the special education teacher has been eliminated.”

“The National Education Association estimates that if states and local school systems did not replace any of the funds lost through sequestration, nearly 300,000 students receiving special education services would be affected. The union estimated up to 7,800 jobs could be lost as a result of the federal budget cuts.”

New York Times: F.B.I. Plans to Close Offices for 10 Days to Cut Costs

“After months of agonizing about how to deal with the effects of government spending cuts, senior F.B.I. officials in Washington have decided how they will reduce the bureau’s spending: they will shut down its headquarters and offices across the country for roughly 10 weekdays over the next year.”

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s plans mean that on those days, the bureau will have only a skeleton crew on hand, which raises questions about how effectively it can respond to crime.”

“The F.B.I. also has a hiring freeze, has substantially cut training and has no plans to buy new vehicles. According to bureau officials, the F.B.I. will have roughly 2,200 vacant positions by the end of the month because of the hiring freeze. By the same time next year, the bureau is expected to have 3,500 vacant positions. The issue of vehicles is particularly pronounced in field offices in the middle and western parts of the country where agents are forced to travel several hours to cover their territory.”

Government Executive: Sequester Forces Intel Agencies to Take More Risks, Chief Says

“The nation’s top intelligence officer on Thursday said across-the-board budget cuts will likely continue for at least another year and are already forcing his agencies to take risks in doing without certain security-enhancing tools.”

“With cuts to intelligence agency analysts and capacity, ‘you can’t see or feel it for a long time -- it’s insidious,’ [Clapper] said. ‘Whatever you think of intelligence, you will have a lot less of it to complain about.’”

“But ‘we can’t sugarcoat it, in some areas we’re taking higher risks by being in the mode of ‘you can’t do that’ due to budget cuts.’ In areas such as cutting money for acquisition programs, it might work for one year but it is not ‘sustainable,’ he said.”

Inside Higher Ed: Sequester Strains Science Researchers

“The billions of dollars in cuts to federal research funding earlier this year are prompting science researchers across the country to lay off researchers, close laboratories and scramble to find other sources of funding.”

“Researchers said the budget cuts, caused by across-the-board reductions known as sequestration, are threatening important scientific investigations and pushing young scientists out of the field. Those worries are compounded by the uncertainty of how much money will be available for research in the coming fiscal year, which could bring even deeper cuts.”

“Already this year, the dire warnings from research officials and higher education advocates about what sequestration would mean for research are beginning to play out. More than half of researchers who responded to a recent survey by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology said they either had laid off or expected to lay off researchers as the result of declining federal science funding. Large majorities of survey respondents also said they had seen their grant money decrease, experienced difficulty in obtaining new funding, and spent increasingly more time writing grant applications.”

“Sequestration this year cut the National Institutes of Health’s budget by $1.55 billion, forcing the agency to fund 703 fewer competitive research grants than it did in 2012.”

Government Executive: Flu Shots Fall Victim to the Sequester

“For thousands of civilians in the Air Force, this could be a stuffy, fever-y couple of months. Due to budget constraints, the Air Force will no longer offer free influenza shots to non-military employees. In 2012, about 12,000 civilians received the free flu vaccines.”

Government Executive: Census Bureau Struggles With Sequester and Pressure to Cut Costs

“Newly installed Census Bureau Director John Thompson on Wednesday said sequestration has forced his agency to delay several economic products and field tests of key reforms needed to plan the 2020 Census.”

Las Vegas Review Journal Op-ed: Sequester hits hard for Nevada U.S. attorney's office

“Sequestration cut more than $1 million from the Nevada U.S. Attorney’s Office budget for the 2013 fiscal year. Since a hiring freeze was imposed in January 2011, the Nevada U.S. Attorney’s Office has lost 17 employees due to budget constraints and has a total attorney vacancy rate of 22 percent. To make ends meet, we face potential unpaid furlough days for our employees in 2014. Furloughs were avoided in 2013 by depleting reserve funds and re-purposing money designated for training. Now that money is gone and cannot be used to prevent furloughs in 2014.”

“These dramatic cuts result in fewer cases and collections on behalf of the U.S. government. Our nation’s U.S. attorneys’ offices not only protect public safety, they also secure restitution for crime victims and recover monies for the American taxpayers through collections for civil judgments, fines, forfeitures and criminal assessments.”

The Oregonian: Sequestration cuts mean closed federal courtrooms in Oregon, furloughs, public safety worries

“The cuts put a dent in the number of deputy marshals who deliver criminal suspects to court, U.S. attorneys who prosecute them, federal public defenders who represent them, probation and pretrial services officers who supervise their cases, and court reporters who take down every word.”

“But there's more: Things are likely to get worse.”

WBUR: Sequester Puts 65-Year-Old Framingham Heart Study In Jeopardy

“Over the last 65 years, data from the study has been used to develop and test technologies and treatments that have saved millions of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs.”

“But now, the mandated across-the-board federal budget cuts known as the sequester are dramatically reducing federal funding for the research.”

“The study will continue, but the $4 million cut means the end of the medical exams. Starting in 2015, participants will answer health questions by phone. But Antman says ending the examinations will affect another $28 million worth of research at BU that also depends upon the data and means laying off 19 employees who work on the study.”

The Hill Op-ed: Sequester short-changes the future of America’s airports

“A protracted budget sequester could also undermine the future safety, efficiency, and quality of U.S. airports, weakening U.S. global competitiveness and undermining the economic engines that airports are to their local communities and the U.S. economy as a whole.”

How many devastating examples of the harm caused by the sequester do Republicans need before they agree to replace this reckless policy?