Although many of the deepest federal budget cuts under “sequestration” are still likely at least a month away, and the first round of sequester won't actually hit until just before midnight, the fallout has already begun.
Earlier today, Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, made public the furlough notices sent to prosecutors working for the 93 U.S. Attorney offices. Employees of the National Labor Relations Board have also been warned that they may be faced with an unpaid furlough of at least 14 days.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is facing a $108 million reduction to it nearly $1.3 billion budget, and its austerity would also be shared by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the nonprofit corporation that oversees the audits of public companies.
“Unless legislation occurs that avoids sequestration, the PCAOB's 2013 spending level could be reduced,” the Commission wrote, explaining that its budget is indeed sequestrable. If faced with a budget cut, PCAOB will be required to submit a revised spending plan.
Spared from having to dab Wite-Out on their spreadsheets, the nation' bank regulators are off the hook, with cuts bypassed for the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. But set aside any thought that because the Federal Reserve is off limits then so too is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which draws its funding from the Fed rather than Congressional authorization. It will have to shed about $34 million from its $448 million budget.
In testimony before the US Senate Committee on Agriculture earlier this week, Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, made a pitch for greater resources. The Commission's staff of 690 is less than 10 percent more in numbers than its peak in the 1990s even though the futures market has grown five-fold, and the swaps market is eight times larger than the futures market, he said, pitching a proposal to boost his $207 million budget to $308 million for fiscal year 2013 and increasing the number of full-time employees to 1,015.
Instead, if the federal budget reductions hold, he'll instead need to find a way to trim $17 million.
Late last year, CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said the impending budget cut would mean his agency would have to scale back its efforts.
“We could not initiate new examinations on firms and our enforcement case investigations would slow in size and scope significantly,” he said. “We would not be able to respond to all requests for interpretative guidance on the myriad new reform rules, and there would be significant delays in the ability of staff to respond to those requests that it was able to respond to. As a result, rules might have to be more prescriptive, as staff would not have adequate resources to effectively monitor compliance or operations.”