Ribble Bill Tackles Waste, Substitutes Flexibility for Across-the-Board Sequester Cuts

Feb 25, 2013 Issues: Budget, Jobs and the Economy, Taxes

Washington, DC—Representative Reid Ribble (WI-08) today introduced the Sequestration Flexibility Act, H.R. 816, which will provide department or agency heads greater flexibility to transfer funds from the spending accounts they control.  Each agency will still be required to meet the automatic spending reduction levels under the sequestration order and the Budget Control Act of 2011, but agency and department heads will have wider discretion in reaching their new funding levels under the law.

“While sequestration is far from ideal, it’s also inevitable, and I want to make sure that the cuts are done in the most responsible and thoughtful way possible,” said Ribble “Hyperbole about the devastating effects of the sequester won’t change the fact that it is the law of the land, and since both parties can’t agree on a complete substitute we need to ensure that it is implemented effectively.  

“Enacting the across-the-board cuts under the current sequester will do little to target the waste in each department or agency. Instead of blind actions, my legislation will give the people in charge at each agency and department the accountability to determine where the cuts are made. This measure will help spare the programs that are beneficial, while allowing managers to trim the areas that are less essential. We are never going to trim the fat with an across-the-board cut. Pinpointing areas of waste is where our attention is needed and this bill will help that effort.”

Click here to watch Rep. Ribble talk about H.R. 816 on CSPAN's Washington Journal

Administration comments on lack of flexibility in the current sequester:

  • Transportation Secretary LaHood
    Q: Are there any other ways to avoid the cuts other than those you have outlined?  There are some Republicans who say you could mitigate these effects by doing other things in your budget system.

    SECRETARY LAHOOD:  Look, the sequester doesn’t allow for moving money around.  It just does not.

    (Source: White House Press Conference February 22, 2013)

  • White House Press Secretary Jay Carney
    Q: Jay, the Secretary said sequester doesn’t allow for moving money around.  Is that completely true?  Does OMB have any discretion?  Do the agencies have any discretion?

    MR. CARNEY:  …And I think Secretary LaHood reflected the -- in layman’s terms -- the facts, which is there is very little flexibility in terms of how to make those cuts happen. 

    (Source: White House Press Conference February 22, 2013)

  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
    “In his note to defense employees, Panetta said the department was "doing everything possible to limit the worst effects" of sequestration, "but I regret that our flexibility within the law is extremely limited."

    (Source: Reuters article: Panetta notifies Congress of Pentagon plan to furlough civilians, 2/20/13)

  • Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
    "If sequestration is allowed to happen, it will be disastrous for intelligence," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a group of intelligence officers and contractors gathered at a conference in Orland on Tuesday.

    Clapper said every major intelligence program is "in jeopardy of being wounded" because the budget deal Congress passed last year does not allow the intelligence community any flexibility to prioritize needs.

    (Source: CNN Security Blog October 10, 2012)

  • Rear Admiral John Kirby, Chief of Navy Information
    “In response, Rear Adm. John Kirby, Navy Chief of Information, said the Navy has little flexibility when it comes to sequestration.”

    (Source: Politico Morning Defense, 2/25/13)