SHOTLIST:

POOL - AP CLIENTS ONLY

Arlington, Virginia - February 20, 2013

1. SOUNDBITE: Jessica Wright/Acting Under Secretary of Defense

"The effects of sequestration and the continuing resolution on our military personnel will be devastating but on our civilians it will be catastrophic. These critical members of our workforce, they work in our depots. They maintain and repair our tanks, our aircrafts, our ships. They teach our kids, they care for our children, they provide medical treatment to all our beneficiaries. They take care of our wounded warrior, they provide services and programs such as sexual assault prevention and suicide prevention just to name a few. So let me be clear, the first, second and the third order of effect on sequestration will be felt in the local commands, and will be felt in the local communities all over the United States and clearly all over the global. This is not a beltway phenomenon. More than 80% of our civilians work outside the DC metro area. They live and work in every state of the union. If furloughs are enacted, civilians will experience a 20% decrease in their pay between late April and September. As a result, many families will be forced to make difficult decisions on where their financial obligations lie. Key benefits, such as life insurance benefits and health care and retirement will generally continue."

STORYLINE:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is telling Congress that if automatic budget cuts kick in on March 1 he may be compelled to furlough the "vast majority" of the Defense Department's 800,000 civilian workers.

Panetta said that he notified members of Congress Wednesday that if furloughs cannot be avoided, all affected workers will get at least 30 days' notice.

Jessica Wright, Acting Under Secretary of Defense, said "the effects of sequestration and the continuing resolution on our military personnel will be devastating but on our civilians it will be catastrophic."

Pentagon officials have said the furloughs would be structured so that nearly all 800,000 workers lose one day of work per week for 22 weeks, probably starting in late April. That means they would lose 20 percent of their pay over that period.

Wright said if furloughs are enacted, "civilians will experience a 20% decrease in their pay between late April and September. As a result, many families will be forced to make difficult decision on where their financial obligations lie. Key benefits, such as life insurance benefits and health care and retirement will generally continue."

Panetta said the administration is still working with Congress to avoid automatic budget cuts by reaching agreement on a deficit reduction plan.

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