President Barack Obama signed the Sequestration Transparency Act on August 7. The act, now Public Law 112-155, requires the President to provide a report to Congress on the percentage and dollar amount impact of sequestration on each discretionary and mandatory federal program within 30 days of enactment (see Memo, 7/27).
Advocates are using August to educate House and Senate members about the impact that sequestration will have on housing programs and urging lawmakers to find a balanced approach that includes increased revenues and no further cuts to non-defense discretionary programs. The Non-Defense Discretionary coalition, in which NLIHC participates, released a toolkit for advocates of non-defense discretionary programs the week of August 6. The kit includes information on attending and participating in town halls, sample letters to the editor and tips for using social media to raise awareness about non-defense discretionary programs.
These tools, coupled with data on how sequestration would damage housing programs, can be used by advocates when reaching out to their Members of Congress in August and through the fall. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that 185,000 rental assistance vouchers would be lost in FY13 if sequestration is implemented as planned in January 2013. It is estimated that 145,000 people who would be housed under current funding will remain homeless if sequestration is implemented.
Also the week of August 6, CBPP released a report on how any “deficit reduction package that lacks significant revenues would shift very substantial costs to states and localities.” House Committee on the Budget Paul Ryan (R-WI) authored a bill, passed by the House, seeking to achieve deficit reduction without any additional revenues. The CBPP report uses what is referred to as the Ryan Budget to show the kinds of cost-shifting to states and programmatic cuts that would occur in any deficit reduction approach that does not include a significant amount of new revenue.
The CBPP report says that the cuts imposed by a Ryan Budget “would be much greater than the automatic cuts (or ‘sequestration’) scheduled to begin in January.” In 2014 alone, the Ryan Budget cuts would be three times greater for non-defense discretionary funding than the cuts from sequestration. “In later years the difference is even larger. States and localities are justifiably worried about sequestration’s major federal funding cuts; but if federal policymakers enact a deficit reduction plan that relies entirely or almost entirely on spending cuts, the damage to state and local aid will likely be much more severe,” the report says.