Federal staffing cuts forced by sequester begin this week

4:46 PM, Apr 22, 2013   |    comments
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(NBC NEWS) -- Thousands of federal employees are beginning to take mandatory days off without pay because of spending cuts mandated by sequestration.

Already the cuts are leading to airport delays and fewer police patrolling national parks.

"We won't be able to respond to calls as quickly or be the visible deterrent to crime we have been," says Ian Glick of the U.S. Park Police.

Transportation security administration officers and meat inspectors with the department of agriculture were spared from the furloughs, but air traffic controllers were not.

Like park police, they're forced to take unpaid days off starting this week.

The F.A.A. is predicting significant delays at airports around the country, most notably in Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Newark, as well as Philadelphia, San Francisco Miami and Charlotte.

Travelers are already feeling the impact.

"It just seems like we have lost our way on what govt should really do and how they look at things," says Dan O'Leary of Baton Rouge.

"There are certain key - essential personnel - that shouldn't be cut," adds Wally Dicks of Virginia.

Thousands of employees with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Labor are also facing furloughs.

The White House is again blaming Republicans for failed efforts to stop the across board cuts with alternative savings.

"None of this was necessary," says White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

But now it's too late, as even more agencies brace for additional cuts in the coming weeks.

The IRS will begin furloughs next month.

It's identified five days throughout the summer when they won't be answering the phones or opening taxpayer assistance centers.

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