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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Signatories Needed: Urge Congress to Stop Across-the-Board Cuts

America for All 2012 sign

Source: Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)

This January, all nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs face indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts of 8.4 percent through a “sequester.” Such cuts will devastate disability programs, medical and scientific research; education and job training; infrastructure; public safety and law enforcement; public health; weather monitoring and environmental protection; housing and social services; and international relations.

Every local, state, and national organization in the country that cares about funding for any of these core government functions is urged to sign onto this letter (PDF), urging Congress to avoid the sequester by passing a “balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to NDD programs.” 

Sign the letter by the close of business on June 28, 2012. Given the volume of signatures expected across the diverse NDD community, CCD is unable to accommodate edits to the letter.

Please find below answers to frequently asked questions about the sequester and its impact on NDD programs. If you have additional questions, please contact the CCD Fiscal Policy Task Force.

NDD Letter Frequently Asked Questions

What is “NDD?”

Discretionary programs differ from “entitlement” programs that are funded rather automatically to meet the needs of all who qualify for them. Discretionary programs are those that Congress funds annually through the appropriations process. Congress retains complete discretion, or choice, on whether, and at what level, to fund discretionary programs.

Nondefense discretionary or “NDD” programs are core functions government provides for the benefit of all, including medical and scientific research; education and job training; infrastructure; public safety and law enforcement; public health; weather monitoring and environmental protection; natural and cultural resources; housing and social services; and international relations. Every day these programs support economic growth and strengthen the safety and security of every American in every state and community across the nation.

What is the sequester?

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25) established caps on discretionary spending over 10 years, resulting in $1 trillion in cuts spread across defense and NDD programs. The law also directed a congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over ten years. The failure of the bi-partisan “super committee” to come to an agreement on a deficit reduction plan triggered a “sequester” to take effect on January 2, 2013.

To sequester means to set apart or to take something away until a debt has been repaid. In the context of funding federal programs, sequester means imminent, across-the-board cuts to most programs, both defense and nondefense—in addition to the $1 trillion in cuts already sustained through the Budget Control Act’s discretionary caps.

There are a few discretionary programs that are exempt from the sequester in the first year, such as Pell grants in the Department of Education. Some mandatory programs (e.g., Medicaid) are also exempt from the sequester.

How will the sequester impact nondefense discretionary programs?

In 2013, the sequester will mean an automatic 8.4 percent cut to program funding levels in 2013 for most NDD programs. These cuts will truly be across-the-board, with no departmental or agency control on how the sequester impacts individual programs.

Is there really any chance Congress will change its mind about the sequester?

Of course there is! There is already a vocal constituency clamoring to exempt defense programs from the sequester’s reach. Of course, removal of only defense programs from the sequester would place additional burden on NDD programs. Leaders of national coalitions and networks who joined together in crafting this letter believe it is critical for Congress to reverse course and work to achieve deficit reduction with a balanced approach that does not include further cuts to NDD programs.

 

 

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