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President signs order to enact sequester budget cuts

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An image of the sequestration order, signaling the beginning of forced budget cuts. (Source: Buzzfeed) An image of the sequestration order, signaling the beginning of forced budget cuts. (Source: Buzzfeed)
Hours before the budget cuts known as sequestration were set to take effect, President Barack Obama has signed the order to begin $85 billion in across the board reductions. Hours before the budget cuts known as sequestration were set to take effect, President Barack Obama has signed the order to begin $85 billion in across the board reductions.
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(RNN) - Hours before the budget cuts known as sequestration were set to take effect, President Barack Obama signed the order to begin $85 billion in across the board reductions.

The deadline for a deal to avoid the cuts was 11:59 p.m. Friday.

The White House Office of Management and Budget on Friday sent to Congress its report detailing cuts and laying blame for failing "to enact balanced deficit reduction legislation that avoids sequestration."

According to the Associated Press, the reductions will result in furlough notices to many government employees and will trim government spending on defense contracts and domestic government programs.

The Federal Aviation Administration says flights to major cities like New York and Chicago could face up to 90 minute delays during peak hours because of fewer air traffic controllers on duty. The FAA says they're also considering closing some air traffic control towers at less busy airports and eliminating midnight shifts at more than 60 control towers.

Seasonal employees of the country's national parks will be hired later than usual or not at all, according to Jon Jarvis, director of the National Parks Service.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has already released some illegal immigrant detainees they call low risk.

Obama met with top Congressional leaders and Vice President Joe Biden early Friday and left with no solution to the looming deadline.

At a news conference early Friday, before he signed the order to set the cuts into motion, Obama said, "Not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away. The pain, though, will be real."

"The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy - a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day."

The president hoped to avoid sequestration by a package that included hiking taxes. Republicans wanted spending cuts, but said they wouldn't agree to tax hikes.

While the president put the blame for the sequestration on Republicans in Congress, Republicans say the sequestration was the president's idea in the first place.

Beginning with agreements set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the budget cuts equate to $85 billion trimmed from the 2013 fiscal year budget, beginning March 1. Nine percent will be cut from all non-defense spending and 13 percent will be cut from defense spending.

Government benefit programs protected from sequestration are Social Security, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, food stamps, military personnel and Veterans Administration.

An image of the sequestration order has began circulating the internet since the announcement.

The last time the Senate passed a full budget for the fiscal year was in April 2009.

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