WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today was joined by Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) in introducing the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (S.3228), a bill requiring the Obama administration to provide Congress with its plan for implementing the required budget sequestration cuts for Fiscal Year 2013.
“The Democrat-led Senate’s failure to produce a budget year after year has left us with the Budget Control Act, which threatens to gut our nation’s ability to protect itself through deep and unbalanced defense budget cuts,” said Thune. “After providing conflicting statements about how the cuts will be levied, the Obama administration needs to provide a transparent plan to Congress and the American people detailing their proposal for the sequestration cuts. My bill would simply require the Obama administration to be transparent when making these spending cuts, just as would be required under a normal budget process.”
“The Senate’s Democrat Majority has refused to lay out a financial plan for the future of our country,” said Sessions. “On our current path, we will accumulate an unthinkable amount of debt while increasing non-defense spending at around three times the rate of inflation. Only defense spending, under current law, will see a net real dollar reduction. As we attempt to achieve greater and more proportional savings, and prevent deep and unwise defense cuts, the administration needs to provide a detailed plan for what will happen if sequestration occurs. This bill requires the transparency that has been lacking and will shed needed light on the budget process.”
The Budget Control Act will trigger $985 billion of spending cuts to many federal departments and agencies starting on January 2, 2013, but the administration has yet to disclose its plan for implementing such cuts. Over the next nine years, $54.7 billion in spending cuts each year will be necessary in both the defense and non-defense categories, in addition to the reductions from the discretionary spending caps. Thus, while defense averages one-sixth of the budget it will be forced to absorb one-half of the Budget Control Act cuts.
Specifically, the Thune-Sessions bill would require the president to submit a report to Congress by July 9, 2012, that includes an estimate of the sequestration percentages and amounts necessary to achieve the required reduction for each spending category on an account and project level. The report would also be required to include any other data and explanations that enhance public understanding of the sequester and actions to be taken under it. In additional to providing more transparency for taxpayers, this report will assist Congress in its year-end legislative business, including fiscal year 2013 appropriations. The Thune-Sessions bill currently has 28 original cosponsors.
A companion bill to the Sequestration Transparency Act will be introduced by House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in the House of Representatives next week when the chamber returns from its district work period.