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White House says 480 budget office staffers face furloughs

A pedestrian walks down Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House during an early spring snowstorm, in Washington March 25, 2013. REUTERS/Mar
A pedestrian walks down Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House during an early spring snowstorm, in Washington March 25, 2013. REUTERS/Mar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A total of 480 employees at the White House budget office face reduced working hours as $85 billion in overall automatic federal spending cuts hit President Barack Obama's staff, the White House said on Monday.

The staffers from the Office of Management and Budget were the only White House employees that spokesman Jay Carney would confirm as having been affected, though he acknowledged, "within the Executive Office of the President, several offices have sent furlough notices to their staff."

The $85 billion in cuts kicked in March 1 after Democratic and Republican lawmakers failed to reach a budget agreement to avert so-called "sequestration" spending restrictions.

Carney also pointed to White House hiring slowdowns and "delayed backfilling of open positions," as well as restricted staff travel and use of some electronic devices, as stemming from the budget stalemate.

As the White House continues to try and deal with the budget cuts, it may face further restrictions, he said, adding that White House offices are reviewing ongoing contracts.

"Furlough and pay cuts remain possibilities, or additional furloughs, as well as pay cuts."

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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