Everyone in Congress says they want to help create jobs and economic growth.
But federal agencies and government contractors in the private sector, which actually hire people, may find that ironic. They are still in the dark about future funding levels because lawmakers have not said whether they will replace heavy-handed automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year.
The so-called sequester -- which no one in Congress likes but can't agree on how to replace -- would total about $110 billion next year alone. Half the cuts would come from defense and the other half from nondefense spending on domestic programs.
Most don't expect lawmakers will reach a decision until the lame-duck session of Congress after Election Day, and possibly not until early 2013.
The problem is that prolonging the uncertainty is likely to cause serious hiring slowdowns and possible layoffs, experts and businesses said.
"If the deleterious consequences ... are to be averted it must be done before the lame duck. Indeed, since most elected officials will spend most of the fall campaigning, the [cuts] must be dealt with by September," according to a recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Center.