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Analysis: Defense Employees Face Furloughs, Lawmakers Return From Break

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Beginning today, most civilian employees in the Defense Department will face a day without pay. And as the weekly one-day furloughs go on for the next eleven weeks, many defense employees are wondering what's in store for the next fiscal year. That answer could come later this week, when Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel is expected to provide Congress with more information on how the next wave of budget cuts will affect his Department in 2014. David Hawkings, of the Hawkings Here column for Roll Call, has some of the details.

On what we can expect Sen. Chuck Hagel to tell Congress this week:

"I think he will undoubtedly say that if Congress does not fix this budget impasse, that things will get worse — not better — next year. The challenge for Sec. Hagel, as it had been for other agency leaders and the White House is to not do any kind of "sky is falling" claims. One of the challenges for this whole budget mess is that several of the claims of how Draconian the sequester would be really haven't come true."

On what defense employees could face in the 2014 fiscal year:

"Employees could face more layoffs than furloughs. The discussion of weapons systems that would need to be slow-walked is my guess. My assumption is that Hagel will talk more about weapons and less about people going up to the Hill because it is of course Congress that has to pay for these weapons. And it's the time of year where they're deciding what to pay for and what to not."

On how lawmakers are addressing the impact of budget cuts on federal agencies:

"You haven't heard about it much in the last month because they really haven't been discussing it much. The time in June before they went away for their July 4 break, it was mostly about immigration, mostly about everything unrelated to the budget.

On lawmakers' priorities upon returning from break:

"Those are the two — immigration and the farm bill — the House is coming back today, and they are having a special meeting on Wednesday in which they are supposed to be able to stand up and have an open mic session in which they say what they've heard from their constituents."

Listen to the full analysis here.

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