U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told Justice Department employees he is “extremely concerned about the negative impacts” that will come from the spending cuts that went into effect on March 1.
Holder, in a memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg News, said the “precise” effect of $1.6 billion in cuts to the Justice Department’s approximately $27 billion budget are yet to be determined. What’s clear, the country’s top law enforcement official said, was that the across-the-board reductions known as sequestration will bring “unavoidable uncertainty until the ultimate resolution is reached.”
“To maintain our essential missions while holding to a minimum the number of temporary furloughs we face, we are heightening our scrutiny of all our spending and redoubling our efforts to trim expenses,” he said.
Holder has previously warned that the Justice Department may be forced to cut the equivalent of 1,000 federal agents and 1,300 correctional officers. Last week, the department sent preliminary furlough notices to about 115,000 employees, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters today in Washington. Those notices didn’t outline the details of reductions in work hours and overtime.
Holder has joined other officials in President Barack Obama’s cabinet warning of the potential dangers of the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts required by law that will unfold over the final seven months of the fiscal year. Obama and lawmakers failed to reach agreement on a proposal to postpone or reshape the spending reductions before they went into effect last week.
In a speech today in Washington, Holder said the cuts will “undoubtedly have a negative impact” on programs that protect U.S. citizens.
“It will curtail our ability to respond to crimes and other threats, and to investigate wrongdoing,” Holder said in remarks to the National Association of Counties legislative conference.