Congress and President Obama failed to reach an agreement avoiding the sequestration (i.e., billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts in federal programs in order to reduce the federal deficit) by March 1, 2013. As a result, President Obama ordered broad cuts in federal government spending.
The sequester began with $85 billion in automatic spending cuts to defense and non-defense programs. Congress now has until March 27 to authorize general funding for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year in order to prevent a federal government shutdown.
The spending cuts that are now in effect will be felt gradually in the weeks and months ahead. In a report released last September, the White House Office of Management and Budget provided preliminary estimates of the sequestration impact on more than 1,200 budget accounts. According to the report, the following cuts could affect cities:
- The Community Development Fund, which includes the Community Development Block Grant, could be cut by $279 million.
- The Home Investment Partnership Program could be cut by $82 million.
- Department of Justice State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grants could be cut by $92 million.
- The Community Oriented Policing Services Program could be cut by $13 million.
- Environmental Protection Agency State and Tribal Assistance Grants, which include funding for the Clean and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, could be cut by $293 million.
- FEMA State and Local Programs, which include Urban Area Security Initiative grants and the State Homeland Security Grant program, could be cut by $183 million.
The National League of Cities continues to work in Washington, D.C., to protect municipal interests.