President Barack Obama began experiencing first-hand the effects of across-the-board federal spending cuts as the first wave of White House furloughs kicked in yesterday.
The $85 billion in cuts known as sequestration hit White House staffers with day-long furloughs scattered throughout the next two weeks.
All staff classified as non-commissioned will miss one work day without salary during May’s first pay period while commissioned officers who, as assistants to the president don’t qualify as leave-earners, will have to take a pay cut commensurate with the planned furlough, spokesman Jay Carney said.
“It affects everyone in the White House,” Carney told reporters at yesterday’s daily briefing.
Administration officials said about 468 people work at the White House, though they cited for that figure a payroll report from July 2012 -- which doesn’t reflect turnover in the administration -- and declined to provide updated numbers.
Approximately 25 percent of the staff was listed as an assistant to the president, special assistant to the president or deputy assistant to the president, the report showed.
Commissioned officers include Carney, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling. Most of their support staff will be furloughed and on those days won’t be permitted to come into their offices or do any work from home, including checking e- mail.
While departments are staggering the furloughs to minimize disruption, the absence of personnel will hurt senior advisers more than the pay cut, said Keith Hennessey, former director of the National Economic Council under President George W. Bush.
“You need those junior staff to be there to make things happen, to make the White House work,” said Hennessey. “The structure relies very heavily on non-commissioned staff to make the trains run on time. With them being down, it will just make everyone’s job a lot harder.”