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CBO: Sequestration Cuts Are Unlikely This Year

The 2014 budget remains sufficient to avoid across-the-board reductions before the fiscal year ends.

The fiscal 2014 budget that President Obama signed last December contained enough cuts and revenues to avoid across-the-board cuts this year, the Congressional Budget Office confirmed Thursday.

In its mandatory biannual update on sequestration, the nonpartisan office said that with Congress in having made only minor adjustments to the spending caps required under the 2011 Budget Control Act, little has changed from its January 2014 assessment that no budgetary cancellations will be needed before fiscal 2014 ends Oct. 1.

The omnibus spending bill now in effect updated the original sequester law and set new caps for 2015 that are $18.5 billion above what the limits would have been otherwise.

The Office of Management and Budget, CBO noted, has sole authority to decide whether new sequestration cuts are required, and it agreed in February that none are needed this year.

One reason for the stability is that the sole major appropriation in fiscal 2014 was $5.6 billion in emergency disaster relief following Hurricane Sandy, which OMB handled by adjusting its nondefense spending cap by that same amount for fiscal 2015.

In the out-years, however, sequestration left unchanged will continue to pinch, though less abruptly. The cap on discretionary budget authority for defense will grow from $521 billion in 2015 to $523 billion in 2016 and then to $590 billion in 2021, CBO estimates.

The cap on nondefense funding will be $492 billion in 2015 and 2016 and then rise to an estimated $555 billion for 2021.

Spending cuts for defense programs will be proportionately larger than those for nondefense programs, CBO said.

(Image via karelnoppe/Shutterstock.com)

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