Shaheen tells the Pentagon to use 'flexibility' to avoid furloughs

Shaheen sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday, asking him to do everything he could to avoid unpaid furloughs for federal employees. 

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The Pentagon announced Thursday that it will reduce the number of days it will furlough workers from 22 to 14. Shaheen said she would prefer the furloughs be avoided altogether by having Congress pass a budget or comprehensive deficit-reduction plan that replaces the “ill-advised” sequester cuts.

“As Congress works toward an agreement, it is imperative that we take every possible step to mitigate the impact of sequestration on federal employees, including with respect to the possibility of furloughs,” Shaheen wrote.

In the letter, Shaheen said that if the furloughs are unavoidable, DOD could work with states to see if employees could collect unemployment insurance during the furlough process.

Shaheen also said she would continue to work toward an agreement that would replace the $1.2 trillion sequester over 10 years that Congress agreed to in 2011 under the Budget Control Act.

“Sequestration is not a solution to our nation’s fiscal crisis,” the letter stated. “Automatic cuts are the least responsible way to address our debt. The best way to avoid sequestration is a thoughtful, long-term deficit reduction plan. This will require reforms to all areas of spending, including domestic, mandatory, and defense, as well as revenues through comprehensive tax reform.”