Spending Law Restores $5 Billion to Sequestered Agencies, White House Says

Carolyn Kaster/AP

The White House has identified nearly $5 billion in sequestration cuts that can be restored under the most recent spending measure passed in March, according to an administration official.

The Office of Management and Budget has recalculated the cuts necessary since the updated continuing resolution passed and found $4 billion that can still be spent at the Defense Department and about $1 billion at other agencies, according to the Associated Press, which first reported the story.

The administration official told Government Executive the restoration of funds resulted from Congress moving money around among various accounts in the updated continuing resolution, which went into effect at the end of March.

“Under the law, if [lawmakers] cut those accounts below their post-sequester level, there is a provision that credits back some of the funds,” the official said.

Essentially, once the continuing resolution became a full-year spending measure, a law from 1985 kicked in that restored funding into accounts that had been cut more deeply than originally planned.

In addition to Defense, the State Department will feel the greatest impact of the restored funds, the administration official said. State recently announced it will not resort to employee furloughs thanks in part to the new calculations.

NASA and the Homeland Security Department also will reap the benefits of the restored funding, AP said. DHS originally planned to furlough law enforcement employees for up to 14 days, but has since announced neither the Transportation Security Administration nor Customs and Border Protection will require unpaid leave. NASA has ruled out furloughs but has said sequestration would force immediate cuts to all education and public outreach initiatives.  

Republican lawmakers were surprised by the restoration of funds, AP reported, but those involved in budgeting did not criticize the decision.

The official said the restored funds will do little to blunt the negative impacts of the across-the-board cuts.

“This does not change the underlying fact about sequestration,” the official said, “which is that it is bad policy that will have damaging consequences for the economy and the American people.”

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