Roundup: Associations Brace for the Sequester
With an 11th-hour deal to avoid automatic budget cuts looking highly unlikely, groups from various industries are warning of the impact to come after the cuts take effect Friday.
Congress averted the “fiscal cliff” earlier this year, but the can was only kicked so far down the road. The $85 billion in automatic budget cuts, which go into effect Friday, will be split between the Pentagon and nondefense spending.
The real impact of the sequester won’t be known right away, but associations are helping to paint the picture of what’s to come in the weeks ahead. Here is what groups from several industries are saying.
According to a statement from the National Association of Elementary School Principals, sequestration will squeeze roughly $2.6 billion from the Department of Education’s budget. The cuts, which would be felt in the 2013-14 school year, include $644 million from Individuals with Disabilities Education Act special education programs, and $406 million from Head Start, which provides education, health, nutrition, and other services to low-income children and their families.
The National Education Association released a document [PDF] that details the state-by-state impact of sequestration on education.
Health and science
Sequestration could set back medical science by a generation, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “The suddenness of it and the depth of it would be a disaster for research, which is not an activity that you can turn on and off from year to year,” Dr. Elias Zerhouni, who led NIH from 2002 to 2008, recently told the Washington Post. “It’s an activity that takes time. The most impacted are the young, new investigator scientists, who are coming into science, and will now abandon the field of science. There will be a generational gap created.”
The American Heart Association warned that a dramatic decrease in research funding would mean “fewer life-saving treatments and cures for Americans with cardiovascular disease,” while the American Lung Association said the $100 million in proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would mean fewer “cops on the beat” enforcing clean-air programs, leading to a decrease in air quality.
Parks and forests
Some of the country’s best-known national parks would feel the pinch. American Forests said the cuts “will delay the openings of the entrance roads to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks by up to a month.” The reduced number of park personnel would also mean shorter hours for visitor centers.
Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications for the United Fresh Produce Association, told the industry news website The Packer that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had cautioned the association to expect disruption in food safety services. “Any kind of reduction in the inspection standards would be a critical concern for the industry,” Gilmer said.
With the possibility of law enforcement officials being furloughed, John Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, told the Huffington Post that the sequester will put the public’s safety at risk.
“The road to a lawless society is currently being paved by the congressional sequester,” Adler said. “What they’re going to do is amputate the long arm of the law. We’re not going to sit back and go gentle into the sequester. The consequences are dire. It’s unfortunate we have to reach this point.”
Have you determined what the sequester will mean for your industry or profession? Share your concerns in the comments.