Fiscal Issues Are Congress’ September Priority

Piggy bank sits on top of American flagOn September 13, the House of Representatives passed a six-month extension of government funding that carries federal funding for FY 2013 through next March 27.  The funding measure, approved by a vote of 329-91, includes a 0.6 percent increase in funding for most federal programs.  The Senate is expected to vote on the measure this week.

The  continuing resolution also included funding for TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) both of which have expired and have not been reauthorized.

White House Releases Report on Sequester Impact

The White House budget sequester impact statement (PDF) doesn’t read like a Stephen King novel, but it might be just as frightening to those who would be affected if the double whammy of defense and non-defense program cuts goes through. They argue the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions.

How much will be cut?  In FY 2013 about $54.7 billion would be cut from defense spending and non-defense spending each if the law remains unchanged.   What does that amount to in some key programs?  Special education would be cut by $1.04 billion, vocational rehabilitation would be cut by $278 million, and key Department of Labor workforce programs would be cut by more $300 million.

The administration’s report goes on to call on Congress to avert the sequester through a balanced approach that includes new revenue and some spending cuts.  Congress remains at odds over ways to avert the looming cuts, with the House Republican party calling for the defense cuts to be eliminated and the full weight of cuts to fall on non-defense programs, while Senate Democrats echo the president’s call for a balanced approach.  The Republican party has so far categorically rejected any tax increases as a way to mitigate the spending cuts.

Any decision by Congress to mitigate the FY 2013 cuts will come after the November elections.