The Continued Fight Against Sequestration

Schools nationwide are experiencing cuts to essential programming and tools due to sequestration.

Schools nationwide are experiencing cuts to essential programming and tools due to sequestration.

On Oct. 16, 2013, President Obama signed legislation approved by Congress to end a 16-day government shutdown. The deal funded the government through Jan. 15, 2014, and raised the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling until Feb. 7,2014, thus avoiding a potentially disastrous default in late October 2013.

The end of the shutdown sent hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers back to their jobs, allowed Head Start centers to once again serve children in need, reopened national parks and museums, reinstated flu surveillance and restored critical government functions.

However, the agreement did nothing to address the ill-advised policy of sequestration, which continues to slash billions from essential discretionary programs, including education.

Sequestration already cut $2.9 billion from education in 2013—the largest cut to education in our nation’s history. This is in addition to deep cuts already instituted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Neither party intended for sequestration to become law, yet if Congress does not act to repeal it, sequestration will be triggered for the second year in 2014, enacting another round of devastating cuts.

Part of the agreement to end the shutdown included a Budget Committee composed of 28 members of the House and Senate, which is tasked with ending the budget impasse and coming up with a long-term, bipartisan budget solution. AFSA will be weighing in with members of the committee, urging them to replace sequestration with a balanced and responsible approach to:

  • reduce the deficit;
  • invest in education; and
  • reject cuts to essential programs and services for our most vulnerable populations, as well as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

The budget conferees are:

SENATE:
Democrats: Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Chris Coons (Del.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Mark Warner (Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) typically caucuses with the Democrats and is included with them as a conferee.

Republicans: Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

HOUSE:

Republicans: Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), Diane Black (Tenn.), Tom Cole (Okla.) and Tom Price (Ga.).

Democrats: Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (Md.), James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Appropriation Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (N.Y.).

AFSA is a member of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), which is a coalition of organizations advocating for increased federal financial support for our nation’s educational system. During the shutdown, AFSA joined CEF in urging members of Congress to reopen the government, repeal sequestration and prevent further cuts to education funding. During this time, AFSA visited more than 20 House offices and provided them with detailed fact sheets and information about the harmful impact sequestration is having on our nation’s schools.

AFSA also is a member of Nondefense Discretionary (NDD) United—an alliance of more than 3,200 national, state and local organizations working to protect investments in core government functions. NDD United has been fighting over the past year to protect education funding, medical research, employment training, Head Start, food aid for low-income individuals and seniors, assistance to veterans and much more.

AFSA will continue working with NDD United and CEF to urge Congress to repeal sequestration and protect services that support all Americans.