(CNN) – Lawmakers have known about this day since August 2011 - a day they say was never supposed to come - but nevertheless, it's here.
Starting Friday, the federal government is required by law to start
cutting $85 billion from its budget over the next seven months, with a
total of $1.2 trillion over the next decade.
The automatic cuts will hit a number of federal agencies in both defense and non-defense spending. Lawmakers and agency heads warn the effects will cause a range of issues from unemployment to longer lines at the airport to lower-quality food inspections.
President Barack Obama sat down at the White House with congressional leaders Friday morning - the timing of the last-minute meeting has been widely criticized - and later held a press conference in the press briefing room. But with most members of Congress out of town, the likelihood of Washington's top brass reaching a deal Friday to avert the cuts is slim.
Check back here for the latest on the day's developments.