slow growthThe top of the charts' number one issue of immediate consequence in Washington is that strange word – sequestration, according to Aaron Trippler, government affairs director of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).

Says Trippler in his latest newsletter, Happenings from the Hill: “When Congress faced the idea of sequestration over a year ago, everyone from the President on down said 'it will never happen!' Well, it’s about to happen."

“After delaying sequestration for two months, the deadline is March 1.

“Unless something is done, some $85 billion in automatic spending cuts will take effect. Most of this will come from defense spending but agencies like OSHA will also face approximately a 5% cut in spending.

“Where will the cuts come from? Too soon to know at this time.

“ It’s unclear whether or not agencies like OSHA must cut an equal amount from every program or whether they can target specific programs for most of the cuts.

“But to give you an idea of the impact, there is word that Department of Defense employees may face 22 days of furlough in April.

“ If there’s any good news in all of this it’s that we won’t immediately see the effects of all of these cuts. It may take a month or so. Of course the bad news is this would only carryover until the next budget cycle when additional cuts would have to be made.

“There is talk though that Congress will come back from this recess and address the issue quickly when they address the remainder of the FY13 budget.”