The White House made it clear that President Obama wants the sequester cuts gone by threatening to veto every appropriations bill that uses sequester cuts to establish funding levels.
Via a Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2578, making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes. The bill drastically underfunds critical investments in research and development that are key to advancing U.S. economic competitiveness and reducing taxpayer costs for securing essential weather satellite data and conducting an effective 2020 census. It also severely underfunds State and local criminal justice assistance that helps ensure the safety and well-being of individuals and communities, and underfunds programs that would increase the use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement, expand training, provide much-needed police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where the Department of Justice facilitates community and local law enforcement engagement. It also cuts support for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that will help end our reliance on Russia for transporting astronauts, critical space technology investments that will help pave the path to reaching Mars, and earth science research that is helping us understand how our climate is changing and how to respond to earthquakes, droughts, and severe weather events. Furthermore, the legislation includes highly objectionable provisions, including provisions that continue unwarranted restrictions regarding detainees held at Guantanamo Bay that will undermine our national security, severely inhibit efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking, and put in place non-germane foreign policy restrictions related to Cuba. If the President were presented with H.R. 2578, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
Enacting H.R. 2578 and adhering to the congressional Republican budget’s overall spending limits for fiscal year (FY) 2016 would hurt our economy and shortchange investments in middle-class priorities. Sequestration was never intended to take effect: rather, it was supposed to threaten such drastic cuts to both defense and non-defense funding that policymakers would be motivated to come to the table and reduce the deficit through smart, balanced reforms. The Republican framework would bring base discretionary funding for both non-defense and defense for FY 2016 to the lowest real levels in a decade. Compared to the President’s Budget, the cuts would result in tens of thousands of the Nation’s most vulnerable children losing access to Head Start, more than two million fewer workers receiving job training and employment services, and thousands fewer scientific and medical research awards and grants, along with other impacts that would hurt the economy, the middle class, and Americans working hard to reach the middle class.
Sequestration funding levels would also put our national security at unnecessary risk, not only through pressures on defense spending, but also through pressures on State, USAID, Homeland Security, and other non-defense programs that help keep us safe. More broadly, the strength of our economy and the security of our Nation are linked. That is why the President has been clear that he is not willing to lock in sequestration going forward, nor will he accept fixes to defense without also fixing non-defense.
The President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2578 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments needed for our economy to compete in the future. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to reverse sequestration for defense and non-defense priorities and offset the cost with commonsense spending and tax expenditure cuts, as Members of Congress from both parties have urged.
Congressional Republicans have been trying to keep sequester cuts in place for programs that help ordinary Americans while trying to weasel out of the sequester level cuts for the Pentagon. Republicans have been in a panic for months over the potential of defense sequester cuts, but they have no problem with kicking tens of thousands of kids off of Head Start.
The appropriations battle between the President and Congress will come to a head soon. Republicans can’t pass their largely unpopular agenda through the legislative process in Congress, so they are trying to attach it to the appropriations process, but they have run into a White House brick wall as President Obama isn’t budging and has no incentive to yield to the Republican demands.-
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association