September 25, 2012
From: Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel
Congress Passes Continuing Resolution through March 27, 2013;
Sequestration (Mandatory Cuts) Still on Schedule for January 2, 2013
After a week of tense negotiations, in the early-morning hours Saturday the U.S. Senate passed a six-month spending bill, to take effect October 1. The legislation includes a 0.6% spending increase for all discretionary programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). With the current fiscal year set to expire on October 1, lawmakers were under pressure to pass legislation before adjourning (which they did upon the bill’s completion). Congress will now remain out of session until after the November elections.
There was also significant news made on September 14, when the Obama administration released its widely anticipated report on how it would implement the sequestration, the deficit-reducing mechanism enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that requires substantial across-the-board cuts. In the report, the administration announced that in order to comply with the Budget Control Act (in other words, to cut nondefense funding by $54.7 billion in fiscal year 2013), it would have to reduce spending on domestic nondiscretionary spending accounts, including the NEA, by 8.2%. This would amount to a $12 million reduction in funding for the NEA in FY2013, which would affect NEA Partnership Agreement funds awarded for states’ use in their 2014 fiscal years. It is important to note that the passage of the six-month spending bill has no impact on the Budget Control Act’s 8.2% reduction slated for January 2, 2013.
The Obama administration and congressional leaders in both parties have spoken against sequestration and there is clearly momentum for altering it—if not completely repealing it. However, with the presidency and control of Congress hanging in the balance this November, do not expect any activity on this issue before the election.