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Meat shortages won't be the only way federal worker furloughs affect our lives if the sequester takes effect. Nearly two million workers, approximately 800,000 of them civilian staffers at the defense department, could be furloughed beginning in April, and while those two million workers will be more directly and harshly affected than most, the fact that they won't be on the job as usual will have broad effects on air travel, education, law enforcement, cancer research, and services to vulnerable groups, as President Obama sketched out on Tuesday.

Furloughs of air traffic controllers will mean that "the volume of travel must be decreased," according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Meanwhile:

The Transportation Security Administration would also face unspecified furloughs that will "substantially increase passenger wait times at airport security checkpoints," according to Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security.

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee estimated that TSA would furlough its workforce seven days, which would add an hour to checkpoint lines.

Customs and Border Protection officers would be furloughed 12 to 14 days each, meaning three-hour waits at the busiest airports, according to committee Democrats.

On top of that, cuts to health funding could mean not only cancer research would be disrupted, but also AIDS testing and mental health care; food aid could be cut for more than half a million low-income pregnant women and new mothers; 70,000 kids could be kicked out of Head Start, forcing their parents to find other child care; national parks and wildlife refuges could have their hours shortened or be closed altogether; enforcement of environmental and workplace safety regulations could be loosened; and more.

And of course, the nearly two million federal workers facing furloughs won't just be getting less work done to benefit all of us, they'll be losing pay. That not only means they and their families may struggle to make ends meet, but money taken out of their local economies as they spend less. In other words: bad for federal workers, bad for people who rely on federal oversight and services, bad for the economy as a whole.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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