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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

2,500 Organizations Call on Congress to End Sequestration, Raise Spending Caps

September 10, 2015 | Federal Budget | Comments
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Just weeks before severe budget cuts stopped by a 2013 Congressional budget deal are scheduled to go back into effect, more than 2,500 national, state and local organizations are calling on Congress to avoid the impending fiscal crisis and end the cuts (known as “sequestration”).

The letter, which the National Council signed, was circulated by NDD United, a coalition of organizations spanning interests as varied as education, public health, infrastructure, and law enforcement. The letter urges Congress to raise current spending caps and end sequestration through a bipartisan budget deal before October 1, 2015. A deal would prevent drastic cuts to programs for health, early education, transportation safety, law enforcement and veterans’ care, among others.

“We’re running out of time to prevent another fiscal crisis, and once again, real Americans will pay the price for Congress’ inaction,” said Emily Holubowich, Co-Chair of NDD United. “If Congress doesn’t raise the spending caps and end sequestration, veterans could lose medical care, preschools could close, women could be denied access to prenatal and family planning services, and so much more.”

More than 2,500 organizations represented by NDD United signed the letter, which reads in part:

“The undersigned national, state, and local organizations, representing the hundreds of millions of Americans who support and benefit from [non-defense discretionary (NDD)] programs, urge you to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that takes into account the deep cuts NDD has already incurred since 2010. We also urge you to ensure such sequestration relief is equally balanced between NDD and defense programs; a parity precedent set in the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) negotiated by Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Paul Ryan… There is bipartisan agreement that sequestration is bad policy and ultimately hurts our nation. It’s time to end the era of austerity.”

In 2013, Congress approved a bipartisan budget deal that relieved the effects of sequestration for 2014 and 2015. This “Murray-Ryan” deal temporarily masked sequestration’s true impact. Sequestration relief expires October 1 and appropriations bills are now being written in line with the sequestered spending caps, forcing difficult tradeoffs among critical programs that serve vulnerable Americans. Discretionary programs, including nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs—ranging from education and job training, to housing and science, to natural resources and veterans services, to public health, safety and security—have been cut dramatically in recent years.

In 2013, NDD United released a comprehensive, sector-by-sector impact report, Faces of Austerity, which detailed how Americans are feeling the negative effects of austerity. For a copy of the report or to learn more about NDD United, please visit www.nddunited.org.