Tens of thousands of civilian employees in the Defense Department could receive warnings about potential layoffs just four days before the November election if impending spending cuts aren't averted. That could hit presidential battleground states such as Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida hard, a prospect that is unnerving the White House roughly three months before voters go to the polls.
A senior Pentagon official outlined the timeline for notification of possibly 10% of the 800,000-strong civilian workforce in testimony yesterday before a House panel. The across-the-board cuts kick in on Jan. 2, and under the law, defense employees must be notified 60 days in advance—Nov. 2. Congress must be informed of any layoffs 45 days prior to that, or mid-September. He cautioned, however, that no decision has been made on job cuts as Washington grapples with the looming, $1.2 trillion automatic reduction in defense and domestic programs.