Federal employee union urges sequester action

Officials on both sides of the aisle have said they are less optimistic that an agreement can be reached to replace the sequester, a development that has worried defense hawks. The sequester would cut defense and non-defense spending by roughly $45 billion apiece for 2013.

Democrats have said ending tax breaks for the oil-and-gas industry and other sectors could help undo those cuts. House Republicans have noted that they passed alternatives to the sequester last year that were never taken up by the Democratic-led Senate.

In her letter, the NTEU’s Kelley said that sequester cuts would hurt the IRS and customs agents, among other departments. 

The government also estimated on Wednesday that the U.S. economy contracted slightly at the end of 2012, and Kelley warned that the cuts could further strain the economy.