Ominous Rumblings — Sequestration May Become the Battleground on Spending Cuts

Federal agencies brace for impact.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., of the Romney-Ryan presidential ticket and chair of the House Budget Committee, has been strategizing with his party about how Republicans can achieve significant spending cuts in this session of Congress. His eyes have alighted on sequestration, the automatic spending cuts set to strike on March 1 unless Congress acts to avoid them. Given that the recent debt ceiling bill (H.R. 325) did not include spending cuts, and given that other measures that might reduce spending (e.g., entitlement reform) require lengthy and difficult negotiations, sequestration looks to be a logical vehicle on which the House leadership might choose to take a stand.

APA is active in coalitions such as the Coalition for Health Funding and NDD United (remember, that’s ‘non-defense discretionary’) that are advocating against sequestration and in favor of a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Watch for alerts to APA’s Public Policy Advocacy Network suggesting ways you can continue to make your voice heard about these pending cuts.

A Washington Post article yesterday on how federal agencies are preparing for the possibility of sequestration quotes psychologist Steve Higgins of the University of Vermont about the consequences he and his research labs have already experienced. 

The Department of Defense has asked Congress for permission to begin furloughing civilian employees one day a week if the cuts are not avoided. This action would amount to a 20 percent pay cut for civilian employees for the remaining five months of fiscal year 2013. 

U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Budget Committee, announced today the launch of an online platform through which members of the public can engage with the committee.

Murray writes, “'My Budget' goes live today to help you share your stories, ideas, and priorities. It will give working families, students, and seniors one more way to let us know what a fair budget means to them. And in the weeks and months ahead, we will be adding additional tools and resources to enable people across the country to have their voices heard loud and clear as we tackle our budget and economic challenges and to help them engage their friends, organize, and advocate for their budget values and priorities.”