The Obama administration denied an appeal for flexibility in lessening the sequester’s effects, with an email this week appearing to show officials in Washington that because they already had promised the cuts would be devastating, they now have to follow through on that.
In the email sent Monday by Charles Brown, an official with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service office in Raleigh, N.C., Mr. Brownasked “if there was any latitude” in how to spread the sequester cuts across the region to lessen the impacts on fish inspections.
He said he was discouraged by officials in Washington, who gave him this reply: “We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that ‘APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.’ So it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.”
“This email confirms what many Americans have suspected: The Obama administration is doing everything they can to make sure their worst predictions come true and to maximize the pain of the Sequester cuts for political gain,” said Rep. Tim Griffin, Arkansas Republican.
APHIS is an agency within the Agriculture Department, and on Tuesday department Secretary Tom Vilsack was challenged on the email at aHouse committee hearing by Rep. Kristi Noem, who said she hoped thedepartment wouldn’t tie agencies’ hands.
Mr. Vilsack said he hadn’t seen the email, but said agencies are supposed to be trying to find ways to manage the impact of the cuts.
“If we have flexibility, we’re going to try to use it to make sure we use sequester in the most equitable and least disruptive way,” the secretary testified. “There are some circumstances, and we’ve talked a lot about the meat inspection, where we do not have that flexibility because there are so few accounts.”
The administration earlier had warned that supplies of beef, pork and poultry could drop this year because slaughterhouse inspectors will have to be furloughed, and under federal law meat can’t be processed without inspectors present.
“I’m hopeful that isn’t an agenda that’s been put forward,” the South Dakota Republican congresswoman told Mr. Vilsack.
The $85 billion in sequesters began Friday, and have hit most of the federal government, where employees will face furloughs.
Since Sunday the agency has posted 24 help-wanted ads including 22 student internships, one ad seeking a clerk in a New York office, and one ad seeking three “insect production workers” to grow bollworms in Phoenix.
Source: Washington Times