Over the seven-month period, a 22-day furlough would roughly equal about one day per week, reducing workers' income by about one-fifth.
Congress, showing little sense of urgency, is now on a week-long "Presidents Day" recess.
When members of the Senate and House of Representatives return next week, they will begin feeling each other out for a remedy by March 27, when another budget deadline hits: the need to replenish federal funds for all government agencies.
That is a separate fight in Congress but it might become mixed in with the sequestration battle as fiscal issues come to a head.
Last week, Senate Democrats unveiled their plan to replace the sequestration with a combination of agriculture subsidy cuts and higher taxes on the richest Americans.
Senate Republicans, warning that they will reject any new tax increases, have not yet settled on a plan. But several are circulating, including replacing the sequestration with different spending cuts, giving federal agencies more flexibility in how they would carry out the existing $85 billion in cuts, or reducing the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition.
Before going forward with any plan, Republicans might have to quell an uprising within their party that has some conservatives hoping that the meat-ax approach stays, thus ensuring some serious deficit reduction this year.