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• Cuts to special-education money would eliminate federal support for 7,200 school employees around the country.

• Job safety inspectors might have to be furloughed, which the White House warned “would leave workers unprotected and could lead to an increase in worker fatality and injury rates.”

The White House also laid out the broader negative consequences the sequester would have when it comes to the economy as a whole. Private forecasters, the Congressional Budget Office, and others have estimated that letting the sequester take hold would cost the country millions of jobs.

Jason Furman, the principal deputy director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said the country got a “tiny bit of a preview” of the impact in the fourth quarter financial numbers, in which the Gross Domestic Product contracted because of cut backs in defense spending due in part just to fears about the sequester hitting.

If Congress can’t reach a deal, the White House urged lawmakers to delay the sequester by at least a three-month period to allow time to find targeted spending cuts, instead of an arbitrary across-the-board slash to all budgets, defense and domestic.

“The notion here is to delay these very severe impacts that I’ve described so that you have time to work out a deal that can delay and avoid them more permanently,” Mr. Furman said.

Susan Crabtree contributed to this report.