An agreement has been struck to include legislation offered by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the Sequestration Transparency Act, as part of an amendment to the Farm Bill requiring the Obama administration to provide Congress with its plan for implementing the required sequestration cuts that will occur on January 2, 2013. Thune and Sessions were the first senators to call for more transparency from the administration on sequestration. In May, Senators Thune and Sessions introduced the Sequestration Transparency Act and last week the Senate Appropriations Committee approved nearly identical language as part of the Fiscal Year 2013 Financial Services Appropriations Bill. The amendment was accepted by a voice vote today.
“If we are going to meet the requirements of the Budget Control Act, the Obama administration has to share the details of how it plans to implement these spending cuts—a substantial part of which will impact our nation’s ability to defend itself,” said Thune. “My bipartisan approach simply provides a deadline so Congress can respond accordingly. It will be very difficult for Congress to pass appropriations bills or address the unbalanced cuts to defense spending without this information from the administration. The Obama administration has provided conflicting statements about how these cuts will be levied and this amendment would require transparency in this process.”
“Congress has tried repeatedly to get information from the Administration about how sequestration would affect federal spending next year, including the dramatically disproportionate cuts scheduled to hit defense spending, but thus far our requests have been ignored,” said Sessions. “Just this morning, OMB rejected an invitation to testify before a House committee about the impact of these cuts. I am pleased that the Senate was able to reach a bipartisan agreement to require detailed reports on the effect of sequestration. It is critical that Congress have this information so we can evaluate how to move forward with our annual spending bills.”
Half of the reductions required by the Budget Control Act will come from defense, despite the fact that defense spending averages just one-sixth of the federal budget. This amendment would require the president to submit a report to Congress no later than 60 days after enactment of the Farm Bill or by October 30th, whichever is earlier. This report would include a detailed estimate of the sequestration percentages and amounts necessary to achieve the required reduction. In addition to providing more transparency for taxpayers, this report will assist Congress in its year-end legislative business, including fiscal year 2013 appropriations and addressing the pending fiscal cliff that the Congressional Budget Office has said could cause a 1.3 percent reduction in economic growth during the first quarter of 2013.
A companion bill to the Sequestration Transparency Act was introduced by House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in the House of Representatives and has over 50 cosponsors.