Senators Want to Know How Sequestration Will Impact Ed
A bipartisan pair of lawmakers, U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are championing a measure that would require the White House Office of Management of Budget to provide a detailed account of how cuts will occur across a number of federal programs.
The cuts, which will automatically go into effect in January unless Congress acts are more commonly known as the “sequestration” process. Sequestration became an issue after the Supercommittee established as part of the debt ceiling resolution, which included twelve members of the House and Senate, half Democrats and half Republicans, failed to reach an agreement. The committee, which was tasked with coming up with at least $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years, failed in November of last year (Supercomittee Failure Leads to Ed Fears, January 28, 2012). Under the agreement sequestration is scheduled to kick in beginning in January of 2013. In the education category that meant an across-the-board cut of about 7.8 percent or a $3.5 billion budget decrease.
Sequestration was set up to be so bad that it wouldn't happen, but stopping it requires lawmakers to come up with some kind of a grand compromise on taxes and spending, which so far has been elusive. Education advocates have been sweating for months over the series of cuts that are slated to hit every K-12 program. The cuts could be as high as 9.1 percent and would impact almost every education program.
Specifying the Cuts
So far, no one has spelled out exactly what the cuts would mean for each and every program, which makes it harder for lawmakers—and the public—to really prepare for them. Initally, McCain introduced an amendment seeking a detailed report on the impact of sequestration on defense. Murray countered with a provision asking for the impact on everything. Then they collaborated on this language.
The provision was approved with broad support as an amendment to the farm bill, which is one of the very few pieces of substantial legislation actually moving through Congress. It will require OMB to give an accounting of teacher job losses, the number of students shut out of education programs, and education resources lost to states and districts.
The administration would have to get Congress a detailed accounting of the policies and programs affected by sequestration within 60 days of the law's passage.
Education advocates have been very supportive of the amendment.
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