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Panetta: Defense furloughs would be 'disruptive and damaging' (+video)

In a letter Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress there were no 'viable alternatives' to putting civilian defense employees on furlough should scheduled budget cuts take effect on March 1. President Obama spoke in favor of avoiding the cuts on local television around the country, Wednesday. 

Who and what would be cut by goverment furloughs?
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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta formally notified Congress on Wednesday that the Pentagon plans to put civilian defense employees on unpaid leave this year if $46 billion in across-the-board U.S. government spending cuts take effect on March 1.

The announcement of congressional notification begins a 45-day process that could ultimately lead to 22 days of unpaid leave for most of the department's 800,000 civilian employees around the globe.

In a letter released by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, Panetta said the furloughs would be "disruptive and damaging" to the Pentagon's defense mission, but there were no "viable alternatives" to reduce spending if the budget cuts occur.

President Barack Obama has been sounding the alarm about the impact of the $85 billion in automatic across-the-board government spending cuts due to take effect starting next month. The president turned to local television stations across the country on Wednesday to increase public pressure on congressional Republicans to avert the cuts.

In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry defended U.S. foreign affairs spending against the backdrop of looming cuts, saying it protects U.S. security and creates jobs.

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