U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, today praised the House of Representatives’ passage of the Sequestration Transparency Act (H.R.5872) in a nearly unanimous bipartisan vote of 414 to 2. The bill would require the Obama administration to provide taxpayers and Congress with their plan for implementing the sequestration cuts for defense and non-defense programs that are scheduled to occur on January 2, 2013.
Thune and Sessions first spearheaded this issue when they introduced the Senate companion of the Sequestration Transparency Act (S.3228) in May of this year. Since then, the Senate adopted a similar reporting requirement as part of an amendment to the Senate-passed Farm Bill. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have also approved the FY 2013 Financial Services Appropriations bills that include sequester reporting requirements based on the proposal authored by Senators Thune and Sessions.
“Our country is heading for a fiscal cliff,” said Thune. “Sequestration threatens our national security and there is bipartisan agreement that it is time for the Obama administration to be transparent about how they plan to implement these looming spending cuts. I applaud the House of Representatives for taking action to ensure that taxpayers and Congress know the president’s plan to implement sequestration across government programs. I am committed to ensuring that this bill receives consideration in the Senate as soon as possible.”
“I am very glad that the House has adopted the Sequestration Transparency Act,” said Sessions. “Under the sequester, in real dollars, the five-sixths of the budget that are non-defense will increase 35 percent over 10 years while defense spending – just one-sixth of the budget – will decline by 11 percent. Additionally, some of the largest and fastest growing non-defense expenses of the government are totally immune from any cuts whatsoever. These cuts are astoundingly disproportionate and the American people are entitled to transparent information about where they will fall.”
The Budget Control Act (BCA), enacted in August of 2011, triggered across-the-board spending reductions of $984 billion to be distributed evenly over nine years, or $109.3 billion per year. Each year $54.7 billion in reductions will be necessary to both defense and non-defense categories. The defense sequester cuts are in addition to $487 billion in defense cuts over 10 years that were put in place last year after the BCA took effect. Defense spending accounts for less than 20 percent of federal spending, but defense would bare half of the cuts under sequestration. If sequestration does go into effect, Congress risks turning back the clock on our military strength to where it was before World War II.
The report required by the Sequestration Transparency Act would not only provide more transparency, but would also assist Congress in assessing the long-term affect these cuts will have on our national defense, and assist in its year-end legislative business, including fiscal year 2013 appropriations. The Thune-Sessions bill currently has 33 cosponsors.