Today, as the implementation of sequestration grows closer, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith will introduce the Sequestration Relief Act of 2013. The bill is a responsible approach designed to eliminate sequestration and implement an alternative spending plan that is designed to provide certainty to our economy, the Department of Defense, and the entire federal government.
"Cuts through sequestration were intentionally designed to be so unacceptable and so damaging to national security and the economy, that Congress would be forced to take serious action to reduce the deficit," said Ranking Member Smith. "Unfortunately, that threat failed to produce a comprehensive, balanced solution to our deficit challenges. We can no longer rely on this devastating mechanism to compel action. My bill would make a down payment on deficit reduction, dispel some of the economic uncertainty, and remove the threat of sequestration to our economy, the Department of Defense, and the entire federal government."
The Responsible Solution
The legislation introduced by Smith would eliminate the sequester scheduled to take effect on March 1, 2013, and remove the Budget Control Act's statutory requirement to produce $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. The bill would produce $320 billion in spending reductions, one-third of what the March 1 sequester would cut indiscriminately, by incrementally reducing discretionary spending caps over eight years. Of that $320 billion, $167 billion would be drawn from the defense budget, and the remaining $153 billion would come from all other areas of discretionary spending. Additionally, the bill would suspend the debt limit until February 1, 2017.
"This bill does not deny the fact that we need to make changes to mandatory spending programs and raise new revenues. We absolutely do. This alternative plan would ensure that discretionary spending accounts, and the economy, are no longer held hostage while Congress debates the larger revenue increases and mandatory spending changes necessary to move towards fiscal responsibility. We have a deficit problem that must be addressed, but we should not damage our economy and undermine national security in the process," said Smith.
As a resolution to the failed debt ceiling debate in 2011, Congress created the Budget Control Act, which Smith voted against. The act temporarily raised the debt limit and stipulated that if Congress did not find $1.2 trillion in savings, then a process called sequestration would kick in. Cuts through sequestration were designed to be so damaging to our national defense, the economy, and other important federal programs, that Congress would be forced to act.
As a deterrent to inaction, sequestration failed. Congress did not act, yet the devastating mechanism intended to force action remains in-place. As a result, a wide variety of federal programs face crippling uncertainty, including investments in national security, the workforce, transportation infrastructure, education, health care, public safety, housing, innovation, small business development, Medicare, and many other facets of enduring national strength. Over the weekend, the White House released a detailed report outlining the serious implications of sequestration.