Civilian agencies face sequestration cuts of $1.8 billion in 2016 if lawmakers pass House spending proposals, according to a new report from the Office of Management and Budget. The proposed spending levels would trigger a sequester because they surpass the caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act, OMB found. Those caps were lowered in fiscal 2014 and 2015 thanks to a budget deal that offset some of the required cuts, but are scheduled to fully kick back in starting Oct. 1.
The Defense side of the budget would be virtually unaffected by sequestration, with the BCA requiring just $1 million in cuts under a House bill and $3 million in cuts under a Senate proposal. Non-Defense discretionary spending under the Senate appropriations plans came in $146 million under the BCA caps, OMB said, meaning no sequester would be necessary.
Sequestration required dramatic, across-the-board cuts for part of fiscal 2014, as Congress was unable to come up with an alternative plan to offset the require spending reductions. OMB estimated the total non-Defense spending cap for fiscal 2016 will be $510 billion.
The sequester may never come to fruition, as appropriations bills have stalled in both the House and Senate. Even if they were passed, President Obama has threatened to veto any measure that does not significantly raise spending levels above those required by the BCA. Both the House and Senate funding measures cut spending significantly at agencies across government, though the cuts proposed in the lower chamber would not be severe enough to stave off a sequester.
Congress and the White House have through Sept. 30 to reach an agreement, or agencies will be forced to shut down.