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Not Everyone Hates Sequestration

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While most in government -- from President Obama to agency heads to front-line workers to lawmakers to contractors -- have decried the across-the-board spending cuts of sequestration, a select few could actually benefit from them. Here are some examples:

Premium pay executives: Premium pay is offered to certain federal employees -- for example, law enforcement personnel -- in addition to their basic rate of pay. The amount of premium pay is capped, however, in each pay period. The Office of Personnel Management has identified a scenario in which an employee who regularly hits the premium pay cap would end up taking home the same amount of money during a furlough because the reduction in basic pay would be offset by extra premium pay that no longer falls above the ceiling. In other words, this employee would receive the same compensation as usual, but work fewer hours. Not a bad position to be in, at least from the employee’s perspective.   

Federal employee lawyers: Workers can challenge furloughs, and that means more business for lawyers with a government clientele. The Merit Systems Protection Board is bracing for a flood of such appeals. Tully Rinckey PLLC, an employment and labor law firm that serves federal employees, is expecting as much as a quarter of the federal workforce to challenge furloughs resulting from sequestration, according to a report in Washington Business Journal.

Overworked feds: Of course, an overwhelming majority of feds fear the fallout of sequestration, and the potential loss of pay due to furloughs. Some, however, have taken to public forums to say sequestration is a blessing in disguise.

“I really plan to enjoy my time off, working for myself doing work I really enjoy,” wrote one federal employee from Bremerton, Wash., on a Washington Post forum.

“Bring it on! I’ve requested the consecutive 22 days so I can draw unemployment and travel,” wrote another federal employee on the U.S. Air Force Web site.

Conservative lawmakers: Though almost the entire Republican caucus -- and a few Democrats -- in the House voted last week to keep sequestration in place through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, most lawmakers have criticized the broad cuts as bad policy. Some of the most right-leaning lawmakers, however, have said sequestration is the right path for the country:

“This will be the first significant tea party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., has said.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., has said, "We want to keep the sequester in place and take the cuts we can get."

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, has said, “I accept the blame, but give me the credit for finally having had the strength to provide some savings for the American people because everyone gets it. Our debt is unsustainable.”

And Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., has said, “The sequester is here, it’s time, we’ve got to get these spending reductions in place… It’s going to be a home run.”

Airport vendors: President Obama and Federal Aviation Administration officials have warned of long delays at airports nationwide, as air traffic controllers stand to be furloughed under sequestration. While long waits will be a thorn in the side of travelers, airport and seaport vendors can turn delays into profits. Vendors The New York Times interviewed called the cuts “good for business.” 

Eric Katz joined Government Executive in the summer of 2012 after graduating from The George Washington University, where he studied journalism and political science. He has written for his college newspaper and an online political news website and worked in a public affairs office for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command. Most recently, he worked for Financial Times, where he reported on national politics.

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