What is "NDD"?
Discretionary programs differ from "entitlement" programs that are funded rather automatically to meet the needs of all who qualify for them. Discretionary programs are those that Congress funds annually through the appropriations process. Congress retains complete discretion, or choice, on whether, and at what level, to fund discretionary programs.
Nondefense discretionary or "NDD" programs are core functions of the government provides for the benefit of all, including medical and scientific research; education and job training; infrastructure; public safety and law enforcement; public health; weather monitoring and environmental protection; natural and cultural resources; housing and social services; and international relations. Every day these programs support economic growth and strengthen the safety and security of every American in every state and community across the nation.
What is the sequester?
The Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25) established caps on discretionary spending over 10 years, resulting in $1 trillion in cuts spread across defense and NDD programs. The law also directed a congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over ten years. The failure of the bi-partisan "super-committee" to come to an agreement on a deficit reduction plan triggered a "sequester" to take affect on January 2, 2013.
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 the $1 trillion in cuts already sustained through the Budget Control Act's discretionary caps.
There are a few discretionary programs that are exempt from the sequester in the first year, such as Pell grants in the Department of Education. Some mandatory programs are also exempt.
How will the sequester impact nondefense discretionary programs?
In 2013, the sequester will mean an automatic 8.4 percent cut to program funding levels in 2013 for most NDD programs. These cuts will be across-the-board, with no department or agency control on how the sequester impacts individual programs.
Can Congress change its mind?
Yes! There is already a vocal constituency working on these issues. Leaders of national coalitions and networks who have joined together believe it is critical for Congress to reverse course and work to achieve deficit reduction with a balanced approach that does not include further cuts to NDD programs.
What can your organization do?
Sign on to this letter, urging Congress to, "find a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to NDD programs." Share this letter with your networks and colleagues. This letter is for organization sign-ons only. All national, state and location organizations are encouraged to sign. Sign-on deadline is July 3, 2012.
For a copy of the letter, click here.
To sign the letter, click here.