WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Justice Department will not have to furlough any employees this fiscal year because of the automatic budget cuts that went into effect in March, Attorney General Eric Holder told employees in a memo on Wednesday.
Hiring freezes and other cost-cutting measures will allow the Justice Department to keep its prosecutors, and agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, on the job.
That is in contrast with other parts of the government such as the Federal Aviation Administration, which is having to force thousands of air traffic controllers to take unpaid days off.
“This action means that thousands of critical FBI and ATF agents, Deputy U.S. Marshals, prosecutors and other department employees will remain on the job protecting national security, fighting violent crime and enforcing our laws,” Holder said.
However, Holder warned employees that this only addressed furloughs scheduled through the end of September, when government spending must be cut by $85 billion.
Military and domestic government programs are facing another $1.1 trillion in cuts over the next decade unless Congress passes legislation to undo the deficit reduction law.
President Barack Obama has already set in motion the next $109 billion of budget cuts, also known as the sequester, for the fiscal year starting October l.
“Few, if any, of the extraordinary actions we are taking now to avoid furloughs will be available again next year, and thus furloughs are a distinct possibility at the beginning of next fiscal year if sequestration levels continue,” Holder said in the memo.
Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Eric Beech