Napolitano: Airport lines have nearly doubled since sequester

"Now that we are having to reduce or eliminate basically overtime both for TSA and for customs, now that we have instituted a hiring freeze … we will begin today sending out furlough notices,” Napolitano said at an event that was sponsored by Politico.

“We are already seeing the effects," Napolitano continued, citing TSA lines that are “150 to 200 percent as long as we would normally expect.”

Prior to the implementation of the sequester, the Obama administration had warned before the automatic budget cuts would result in longer TSA lines and flight delays because airport security screeners and air traffic controllers would have to furloughed.

"If you're traveling by air, you're going to have to start getting to the airport earlier," Napolitano warned airline passengers in a pre-sequestration appearance at the White House press briefing.

"And if you're trying to make a connecting flight, you're gonna have to make your arrangements to give you greater time with which to do that," she added.

TSA said it would it would have furlough its agents for as many as seven days this year, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said as many as 15,000 air traffic controllers would similarly be forced to take unpaid time off.

Republicans in Congress doubted the necessities of furloughs for both agencies, arguing that they could cut their budgets in other places to meet the sequester requirements.

GOP leaders accused the Obama administration of elevating the potential consequences of the sequester to scare voters.

Federal agencies are required under the sequestration law to cut about their budgets by about 9 percent through the end of the 2013 fiscal year in September.

The administration disputes the amount of flexibility agencies will have in implementing the sequestration cuts.