A bipartisan budget deal announced Dec. 10, brokered by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), would eliminate some of the most severe effects of sequestration, including cuts to special education, housing services and veterans assistance programs.
“This compromise, negotiated by Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, represents a step in the right direction,” the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, the nation’s largest disability rights coalition, said in a news release. “It is designed to restore order to the federal budget and appropriations process, and will allow for the preservation of much needed programs for people with disabilities.
“A functioning, effective federal government is critical to people with disabilities who disproportionately rely on government services to live, learn and work in their communities.”
Congress’ failure to come up with a deficit reduction plan either in 2011, or within its scheduled two-year timeline by the beginning of 2013, triggered a group of automatic cuts, that started March 1, known as the sequestration. The cuts were geared toward discretionary spending programs, as opposed to mandatory programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
As a result, nearly $600 million was cut from special education programs during the past year, as well as $2 billion from housing programs, many of which are aimed at the elderly and people with disabilities.
The budget deal will stop this process of automatic cuts, which were slated to eliminate $1.2 trillion in federal spending over 10 years. The amount of discretionary funding slated for this fiscal year will rise from $967 billion to $1.012 trillion, with $1.014 trillion slated for FY 2015.
This budget, the first official budget approved by Congress in more than four years, has been approved by the Senate, by a vote of 64-36, and the House of Representatives, by a vote of 332-94. President Obama is expected to sign the bill.
“All told, it’s a good first step away from the shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making that has only served to act as a drag on our economy,” said President Obama, who is expected to sign the budget, in a statement.