Congress demands White House transparency on sequestration

Congress on July 18 easily passed a bill requiring the Obama administration to detail how it will handle sweeping budget cuts set to be enacted Jan. 3, when sequestration will take effect.

The House passed the bipartisan Sequestration Transparency Act by a vote of 414-2, ordering the president to report within 30 days on how he plans to implement $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts over the next 10 years, which would be triggered by sequestration if Congress does not intervene.

“All this is saying is, ‘Mr. President, show us your hand, show us your plan,’” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who authored the bill. “Let the American people know what the true impact is going to be on our national defense, on our economy, on a number of vital services, because you have the discretion.”

The bill calls for greater details on spending reductions in defense and non-defense areas, including estimates of amounts and percentages to be cut. The language also asks for a list of functions exempt from the cuts as well as “any other data and explanations that enhance public understanding of the sequester and actions to be taken under it.”

Additionally, the legislation directs heads of federal agencies to consult with congressional appropriations committees and provide the Office of Management and Budget with information “at the program, project and activity level.”

Similar legislation is currently making its way through the Senate.

The House bill was passed on the same day that executives from several defense contracting companies testified before lawmakers on the impact the threat of sequestration already is having on business, and what they foresee happening in the near future.

At the House Armed Services Committee sequestration hearing, many of them called for greater guidance from the government on how to navigate the impending cuts, and warned of hundreds of thousands of jobs potentially being lost.

“I owe an obligation to my employees to explain this as best as I can…so that they know what might be happening and whether they should go look for another job,” said Della Williams, president of women-owned small business Williams-Pyro. “And I don’t want to lose those people, they’re long time employees. But my hands are tied if all this happens.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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