President Obama signed an order enacting budget cuts — including some to discretionary funding for higher education programs — as part of the federal sequester Friday. The plan went into effect midnight March 2 after Congress and the president failed to reach an agreement by the March 1 deadline on how to distribute the cuts intended to reduce the national deficit.
The sequester was originally included in the Federal Budget Control Act of 2011 as an incentive for Congress to reach an agreement about how to address the fiscal cliff, as it threatened to cut spending on both Democrat-endorsed and Republican-endorsed programs.
The deadline for the sequester was originally Jan. 2, but congressional negotiations postponed the sequester deadline to March 1 and reduced the cuts set for 2013 from $109 to $85 billion. The cuts are set to take effect during the remainder of the year, according to ABC News.
Federal research agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, along with other discretionary-funded programs, will have their budgets cut by 5.1 percent, The Herald previously reported. The NIH and NSF, which both contribute funds to University research, are predicted to face budget reductions of $15 billion and $286 million, respectively, The Herald previously reported.
University researchers had already started to notice a delay in the release of previously awarded funds before the sequester deadline passed, Vice President for Research Clyde Briant told The Herald in February. With the sequester in mind, the University adjusted the budget for the coming year to accommodate an anticipated 4 percent reduction in federal funding, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Beppie Huidekoper told The Herald in February. Briant told The Herald in February the University would be better able to address the effects of the cuts once the deadline had passed.
“I do believe that we can and must replace these cuts with a more balanced approach that asks something from everybody,” Obama told Politico Friday. “We just need Republicans
in Congress to catch up with their own party and their country on this.”
A number of domestic entitlement programs, including Social Security, food stamps and Pell grants, are not included in the cuts for 2013. Other cuts to federal financial aid funding will have little effect on the University, Huidekoper told The Herald in February.
The sequester will affect fiscal year spending through 2021 with a total of $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, The Atlantic reported. The majority of the cuts under the sequester — 42 percent — will be in defense spending, which will be cut by $454 billion.