By Hugo Martin
1:45 PM EST, March 4, 2013
The budget battle in Washington that is forcing cuts to federal budgets has already resulted in delays and long lines at some of the nation's largest airports, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday.
At a breakfast meeting with the news organization Politico, Napolitano said her agency is cutting overtime pay and sending out furlough notices to customs officers and airport security screeners.
As a result, she said lines have already increased 150% to 200% at airports, including Los Angeles International Airport and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
"We are already seeing the effects at some of the ports of entry, the big airports, for example," she said.
However, a spokesman for LAX said delays over the weekend were "minimal" and passengers waited in lines less than 30 minutes.
Napolitano said the delays will continue and "cascade over the next week."
"Look people, I don't mean to scare, I mean to inform, but if you are traveling, get to the airport earlier than you otherwise would," she said.
The budget battle, resulting in the so-called "sequester," has imposed a 5% cut on the budget of the Department of Homeland Security. The department oversees the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, among other agencies.
"Please don't yell at the customs officers and the TSA officers," Napolitano added. "They are not responsible for the sequester."