Republicans unveil government funding measure ahead of potential government shutdown

By Andrew Taylor

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 4 2013 5:00 p.m. MST

Obama presided Monday over the first meeting of his new-look Cabinet in a sobering climate of fiscal belt-tightening, urging humane management of spending cuts for communities and families that are "going to be hurting."

"We can manage through it," the president told reporters. Obama and members of his Cabinet had been warning for weeks that the cuts would be painful, but the fact is they will be slow to take effect, with the first furloughs of government workers not due until next month. Cuts to many programs may go unnoticed entirely.

The White House budget office's 83-page sequestration order was released Friday evening, detailing the cuts to more than 1,000 separate government accounts, big and small. Cuts of 7.8 percent that are set to strike defense accounts include $5.2 billion for construction at Army bases. Other accounts are far smaller, like $32 million to operate and maintain the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Each agency is supposed to apportion the cuts equally to each "program, project and activity" within the broader accounts, which gives agency heads some flexibility since it's up to them to define what that means. And it's not clear what recourse others would have if they disagreed with an agency's choices.

"That leaves it pretty much to the administrators in the agency in which that account falls to determine how he's planning on applying it," said G. William Hoagland, a budget expert with the Bipartisan Policy Center. "I don't know that anybody's going to be held accountable if some administrator defines a project the way he wants to define it."

Get The Deseret News Everywhere