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Congress' Agencies Brace for Sequester

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Simple actions like this, where an Architect of the Capitol worker paints a lamppost lining a walkway near the Capitol, will likely become less predictable under the sequester.

Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks suggested that, under the sequester, a funding shortfall could occur as the GPO struggles to meet congressional printing and publishing mandates. Congress would ultimately have to appropriate the funding to offset that shortfall, though money for that might not be available in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, potential staffing reductions could affect timeliness, responsiveness and accuracy.

And the Library of Congress will impose four furlough days for its staff, three of which will result in full closures of all library operations — likely the first time since the government shutdown of the mid-1990s. In addition to providing resource materials to Congress on request, the library also houses the Congressional Research Service, another agency lawmakers rely on for analysis to help them craft legislation or to bolster their positions.

The Architect of the Capitol will likely next week discuss deferred maintenance projects that threaten the integrity of historic structures and invoke life safety issues for inhabitants of the House and the Senate office buildings.

The Capitol Police department is expected to discuss security challenges with limited resources.

It’s unusual timing for appropriations subcommittees to be hearing testimony for the fiscal 2014 cycle absent a budget and in advance of the sequester, which is still unknown territory despite educated guesses about its implications.

“We are already under a tight legislative schedule, made worse by the tardiness of the president’s budget request,” Alexander explained. “It is essential that the annual appropriation process begin, in order to help ensure the timely consideration of our bills.”

Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., told CQ Roll Call on Tuesday that she hoped her panel would be summoning the support agencies to testify soon.

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