Congress Takes Some Hurt Out Of Sequester

By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)


(CBS News) WASHINGTON -- Congress passed legislation Thursday that will allow many government agencies more leeway in deciding which programs must be cut.

The original legislation called for across-the-board eight percent cuts in defense programs and five percent cuts in domestic programs.

Congress headed out for spring break minutes after passing the $1 trillion measure, which gives many federal agencies the flexibility to decide what they cut under the forced sequestration.

That includes the Pentagon, which Thursday announced it will delay the possible furloughs of up to 800,000 civilian workers.

Besides the Pentagon, other agencies given flexibility on cuts include the State Department, Veterans Affairs, Justice, Commerce, Agriculture, NASA, Food and Drug Administration and Homeland Security.

The measure added money specifically for meat inspections and the Border Patrol and found a way to protect military tuition assistance.

The effects of the cuts to the Border Patrol were already being felt last weekend at the Miami airport. There were long lines for passengers returning from overseas because the agency had stopped paying overtime to border agents.

Agencies that will still have to swallow across-the-board reductions include the Department of Education, Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior and Transportation.

That means the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to move forward with closing air traffic control towers at some smaller airports mostly used by private planes.

The State Department actually ended up with $1.4 billion more than originally requested to increase diplomatic security worldwide.

That's because of an assessment made after the September 11 terrorist attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

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