Help Stop Sequestration

The debate in Congress over the federal deficit has been intense in recent years. But at no time has federal education investments been more at risk then now. Congress must take bold steps to reduce the impact of sequestration, automatic across-the-board budget cuts which began March 1, 2013.

What is Sequestration?
What is the Impact to Education?
What Programs are Exempt From Automatic Budget Cuts?
Can Sequestration be Stopped?
Efforts to Protect Defense Programs
Educators Need to Speak Out
Sequestration Resources
Recent News on Sequestration

What is Sequestration?

Sequestration became law as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, and Congress' failure to enact a $1.2 trillion balanced deficit reduction plan.

The law directed a bipartisan Congressional Committee to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over ten years. The failure of the so-called “super committee” to come to an agreement on a deficit reduction plan triggered a “sequester”. To sequester means to set apart or to take something away until a debt has been repaid. In the context of funding federal programs, sequester means imminent, across-the-board cuts to most programs, both defense and nondefense

In addition to sequestration, the Budget Control Act established limits or caps on overall discretionary spending over the next 10 years, resulting in $1 trillion in additional budget cuts from current spending levels spread across defense and nondefense programs.

The fiscal cliff deal, H.R. 8, known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, altered the timing of the scheduled across-the-board budget cuts, or sequestration. Originally scheduled to impact federal spending January 2, 2013, the sequester instead began March 1, 2013. This new law offsets the cost of the delay with a $24 billion package that further reduces overall spending limits over the next two fiscal years and raises revenue by altering Roth IRA contribution rules.

What is the impact to education?

Spending cuts resulted in a 5.1 percent reduction in funding on March 1, 2013 following the fiscal cliff deal passed by Congress on December 31, 2012.

A 5.1 percent across-the-board cut to education investments in 2013 is equal to $2.6 billion reduction in funding for the U.S. Department of Education. Such cuts in the 2013-14 school year could result in:

  • $740 million cut from Title I

  • $644 million cut from IDEA special education

  • $58.8 million cut from Impact Aid

  • $126 million cut in Teacher Quality State Grants

  • $59 million cut from 21st Century Community Learning Centers

  • $9 million cut from rural education

  • $406 million cut from Head Start

Tell your Member of Congress to reduce the impact of sequestration on education by visiting our Legislative Action Center.

**Help maintain the pressure on those who would prefer to let sequestration remain in effect. Share what the budget cuts means to you by submitting a story of a real impact in your school or community through NAESP's online form.

State-by-state data on the impact of sequestration, compiled by the White House.

State-by-state impact of Sequestration, compiled by the NEA.

What programs are exempt from automatic budget cuts?

Pell Grants are protected from the automatic cuts in 2013 only -- the only education program spared from these cuts. Programs that are completely exempt from the effects of sequestration include Social Security benefits, SSI, veteran benefits, TANF, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and Medicaid. Cuts to Medicare were limited to just 2 percent.

Can Sequestration be stopped?

To reduce the impact of sequestration, or to simply provide more time to debate an ultimate solution other than indiscriminate across-the-board budget cuts, Congress must pass another law to repeal sequestration. However, in order to repeal or reduce the automatic cuts, alternative budget cuts or a package of revenues must replace sequestration, similar to what was attached to the two-month sequester delay included in the fiscal cliff deal.

Efforts to protect defense programs

Unfortunately, the defense industry has gone to tremendous lengths to convince lawmakers and the public that the impact of sequestration on defense spending would be devastating and threaten our national security. The only way to further protect defense spending from sequestration would be to cut the nondefense programs, including education, drastically deeper than what is currently scheduled.

Earlier, the House approved a proposal to reduce part of the automatic spending cuts. However, it did not spare programs equally—it eliminated all cuts to defense, while shifting all of the automatic cuts to nondefense discretionary spending, dramatically increasing the impact of scheduled cuts to education programs. Proposals like this are dangerous to education investments, especially at a time when state budgets are slowly rebounding to pre-recession levels and student enrollment is increasing.

Educators Need to Speak Out

  • Congress must be reminded that we cannot balance the federal budget and reduce the deficit on the backs on our children.
  • Federal lawmakers need to hear from you that education investments must be protected.
  • Close to $1.5 billion have been cut from the U.S. Department of Education budget since Fiscal Year 2011 and over 50 education programs have been consolidated or eliminated.
  • While Congress provided two months of breathing room by postponing the sequester until March 1, 2013, this is still a looming issue, making it urgent that Congress debate a compromise to reduce the impact to education.
  • During Fiscal Year 2012, education spending was only two percent of total federal budget outlays, and therefore not the cause of our deficit.
  • Congress must pass a balanced deficit reduction deal -- which includes both spending reductions and new revenues -- before sequestration is set to occur.

Tell your Member of Congress to reduce the impact of sequestration on education by visiting our Legislative Action Center now.

Sequestration Resources

  • Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee released a report outlining sequestration-related cuts, arguing that Congress has made the impact of sequestration worse by adjusting individual parts, rather than pursuing a larger fix.
  • Senate Committee on Appropriations releaed a report on the impact of sequestration found here.
  • See the list of local school boards that have approved resolutions urging congress to stop sequestration here.
  • Senator Harkin (D- IA), Chairman of the Senate Labor, Health & Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee released a detailed state-level analysis of the impact of sequestration to dozens of education programs Under Threat: Sequestrations Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services. This report states that nearly 11,000 special education educators could face job losses from a reduction to IDEA funds as a result of sequestration. In addition, 1.8 million fewer students would be served in the nation by Title I funds.              
  • The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities recently released a report that finds that without a balanced approach to reduce the impact of sequestration, states and localities will face significant cuts.
  • NAESP is working with a new and unprecedented “coalition of coalitions”, called NDD United  which was formed to fight against sequestration and represents numerous nondefense federal programs. This coalition website, which includes a grassroots toolkit with tip on hosting town hall meetings, writing letters to the editor and tweeting to your elected officials can be found here.

Recent News on Sequestration