While Congress is in recess, members of the Senate are crafting a plan to replace sequestration during the post-November election “lame duck” session of Congress. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) requires the Administration to sequester FY13 discretionary funds, which means making across-the-board cuts, to achieve a $1.2 trillion reduction in the deficit over a 10-year period. Sequestration is scheduled to be effective as of January 2, 2013.
A bipartisan group of eight senators is working to avoid these across-the-board cuts by devising a three-stage plan that includes both spending cuts to some discretionary programs and increases in revenue. The senators reportedly are working on a $4 trillion plan similar to that created by the bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Bowles-Simpson) in 2011. They are reported to have consulted with 30 additional members of the Senate, including members who served on the commission. The group may not reduce cuts to defense spending, despite growing interest in such an effort from some members of the Senate and House.
Both Democratic and Republican members of each chamber have expressed concern over cuts to defense spending through the sequester. Members have raised less concern over the impact that cutting non-defense discretionary spending would have on households, particularly low-income households. In addition to calling for restructuring sequestration to avoid defense cuts, several lawmakers have suggested postponing sequestration for six months to a year in order to provide additional months for debating deficit reduction strategies and to delay the political challenges of addressing sequestration.
The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) will host two briefings (one for House staff and one for Senate staff) on sequestration. The Thursday, October 18 2012 briefings will feature a panel of practitioners who will discuss the impact of sequestration on affordable housing and community development programs, and provide congressional staff with data on national and local impacts for HUD programs.