It's Sequester Day. Now What?

FlickrSo it looks like this sequester is probably going to be happening.

The president has until 11:59 p.m. tonight to issue a sequestration order, and at this point, it doesn't look like any last-minute deals are being made.

But if the sequester does go into effect, what does that really mean for us?

We've given you the big picture and now it's time to talk about the details -- what's next for you and your family.

Here goes ...

At some point today, the Office of Management and Budget will direct all federal agencies to cut their budgets by 9 percent. The Pentagon must cut its budget by 13 percent. The president has to sign this order to make it official and he has until midnight to do so. His spokesperson says he'll wait until the last possible moment to sign.

That means that legislators still have time to do something to stop this, even if they just pass a resolution that gives them more time to talk. But some Republicans are hoping for a sequester in order to cut the budget, and a last-minute deal is looking unlikely. The House has gone home for the weekend, and the Senate doesn't seem inclined to do anything either. Here's what Rep. Senator Mitch McConnell had to say this morning:

We promised the American people that we would cut Washington spending, and the President signed those cuts into law. Republicans have offered the President numerous solutions, including the flexibility he needs to secure those reductions more intelligently. I'm happy to discuss other ideas to keep our commitment to reducing Washington spending at today's meeting. But there will be no last-minute, back-room deal and absolutely no agreement to increase taxes.

So what does this mean for us? Are we going to, like, go to the post office on Monday and find it shut down? Well, no. It's going to take a while for these cuts to affect most of us directly. Here's the skinny, according to The Atlantic Wire:

It takes 30 to 60 days for the government to lay anyone off, so no one is losing their job this weekend. Services may be scaled back at National Parks and museums, but as long as they are open visitors will see it as more of an annoyance than a disaster. The pain will be slow and subtle and develop over weeks, not hours. The worst consequences may not even be known after they've already happened.

In other words, don't panic just yet. However, agencies could start handing out furlough notices as soon as March 4, giving workers 30-day notice in some cases that they might not have a job anymore.

Let's hope the men and women on Capitol Hill can stop playing games and get this thing figured out SOON.

Do you think the sequester will REALLY happen? How do you anticipate it affecting your life?

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Image via Sankar Govind/Flickr

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