House votes to prevent mandatory spending cuts

The House voted late Thursday to approve waivers for mandatory, across-the-board reductions in fiscal 2003 spending.

The move would eliminate the need for a "sequestration" of funds in mandatory programs, such as Medicare, veterans benefits, agriculture and student loans.

Thanks to previously enacted legislation, including last year's tax cut, the federal government faces a shortfall for fiscal 2002 of more than $125 billion under so-called pay-go rules, which require offsets for spending over prescribed limits.

Under budget rules, the failure to offset that spending triggers an automatic sequestration, or cut. However, because much of mandatory spending is exempted from such sequestration, most of the $125 billion would not be eliminated. The Congressional Budget Office indicates that as much as $60 billion would get the axe, while the Office of Management and Budget, which manages sequestration, claims only $31 billion would be targeted.

However, Congress has never allowed sequestration of such popular mandatory spending since pay-go rules were revised in 1990, and the Senate is likely to take up and pass the bill waiving the pay-go rules before it exits for the year.

Democrats complained Thursday that even though pay-go rules technically expired at the end of fiscal 2002, the bill still would extend the sequestration waiver through 2006. This is because pay-go has a five-year window that applies to legislation enacted before 2002, including the 2001 tax cut.

Bill Ghent and Pamela Barnett contributed to this report.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.